Happy Halloween, ghouls and goblins!
Being a bit of a wandering spirit and soul-searcher, I often grasp for meanings behind events and objects and Halloween is loaded with metaphors, symbols, and psychological implications. This year I delve into the classics of movie horror for modern philosophical truths. It begins with the master symbol- that mascot of Halloween: The Pumpkin.
BREAKFAST: PUMPKIN PANCAKES
We have all heard the tale that pumpkins carved into jack o’lanterns ward off evil spirits, a legend that goes back to Irish folk lore, a festival named Samhain, and a clever, manipulative drunkard named Stingy Jack. But the carved pumpkin represents more than meaning to us. Beginning with its color- a product of the fall season- orange has symbolically become the primary color of Halloween. The idea of carving images- regardless of its origins- is the perfect representation for expressing our own fears. I would dare say it’s the first image of “horror” we typically encounter, and symbolizes that which scares us. Plus it makes great pie.
Pancake dish: Though not made from scratch, it is from a pumpkin mix that my ghoulfriend Tiana bought for me on a trip in Big Bear.
The pancake is highlighted with sugar, butter, and blueberries in the shapes of a ghost, a cat, and a bat. My pumpkin movie recommendation: Trick ‘R’ Treat featuring that rascal of a character, Sam.
APPETIZER: FRANKENSTEIN GUACAMOLE
Who is Frankenstein but a bunch of parts sewn together? Is it so different than modern cloning or DNA sequencing? And why is he green, anyway? Certainly the idea must have come to Mary Shelley while she was pondering the best elements of the men she knew in her life. Wasn’t it originally titled: How to create the perfect companion and what could possibly go wrong? Perhaps she wasn’t allowed to have pets.
The other element of Frankenstein is raising the dead. Ah, if we could bring our once loved ones back from the netherworld… but would they return the same? Stephen King explored that in Pet Semetery. As far as the patched-up frankensteins of the world go, a handful of good movies explore this like The Re-animator, and the classic comedy Young Frankenstein. And this season’s American Horror Story is working that angle, too. My favorites have been from Buffy the Vampire Slayer including an episode in the first season as well as the Adam story arch in season 4. And Buffy herself came back from the dead- twice in fact.
Guacamole: Avocados, tomatoes, dash of salt, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced olives, and lemon zest. Garnish with blue corn chips.
APPETIZER: DRACULA SOUR CREAM AND BEAN DIP
Geeze, where to begin with vampires, let alone Dracula- the Elvis of the immortal dead. What’s our fascination with them? Is it immortality, or their sustainability and dependence on human blood? And why garlic but not onions? The fear of vampires is pretty clear—they are creatures of the night (traditionally), need our blood to survive, can hypnotize us, and are immortal- possessing skills and knowledge from having lived hundreds of years. You know the movies and you already watch all the shows- there’s even a new series called Dracula. My favorites are The Lost Boys, Let Me In, Near Dark, Nosferatu, 30 days of Night, True Blood, and of course Buffy versus Dracula.
APPETIZER: WOLFMAN SALAD
The wolf man is all about the full moon and transformation. On Halloween we don masks and costumes, allowing ourselves to express other sides of our personality. There is a freedom experienced, where our inhibitions are given room to explore. Halloween allows us the opportunity to be something we are generally not, perhaps because of moral standards imposed by society. Whether zombies, monsters, or vampires- there is a curious part in each of us to imagine what it would be like as these characters. For one night we get to play, to pretend in a safe and fun environment. But what if we couldn’t stop ourselves and had no control over our inhibitions? Enter the full-moon aspect of the wolfman syndrome….
APPETIZER: WOLFMAN BEAN DIP
This is almost a reversal of the idea of unleashed inhibitions. This is Jekyll and Hyde. What if you had no control over what you became and what was unleashed was a monster? Would you chain yourself up every cycle, or accept what you are and deal with the moral consequences? In itself, that’s a very terrifying idea. The movie MASK comes to mind, which asks the question- what if you were born a little differently, perceived by society as a monster? Could you live with yourself? Perhaps this is the most frightening element of all because it deals with real issues. Painful and shameful truths. Misfits of nature. Outcasts of society. Suddenly we are away from playful territory, and that Halloween mask doesn’t look so scary anymore.
MAIN COURSE: Mummy Mushroom Pappardelle
This one came out terribly, and I almost didn’t share it. But it’s an effort and perhaps it will inspire someone out there to make a better version. The mummy is kind of a one-trick pony—it’s the dead awakened, still wrapped in its cloth strips. Why hasn’t there been a sexy mummy movie, or have I missed something? My favorite is still Abbot and Costello, and the first segment of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, with Christian Slater.
Dish: Pappardelle noodles wrapped over a large mushroom, served over a bed of noodles mixed with fresh mushroom sauce
MAIN COURSE: WITCH PIZZA
One thing I do find really interesting is that except for witches, there aren’t many good remakes of the original classics! Universal failed in their recent attempts at Frankenstein and The Wolfman. The Mummy movies weren’t really about mummy’s, and Coppola’s Dracula was sub-par. But witch movies and tv shows abound plenty. It’s all about girl-power- male wiccan’s and warlocks are pretty rare. If wolves are the virile symbols of Halloween, witches are the female mascots. Dabbling in the dark arts, being part of a sisterhood—perhaps it is the outcry to female oppression, particularly pre-puritan times. Traditionally in old media, witches were old, haggard outcasts as perceived in Shakespeare and in The Wizard of Oz. But I’m glad the image has been transformed in recent times, embracing youthful vigor and female sexuality that only witches can exhibit. From Buffy, Charmed, and The Craft to this year’s fabulous American Horror Story: Coven… it’s all about female desire and power unleashed.
PIZZA: chopped olive & pesto for the hat, eggplant for brim, cheese over a large mushroom, and zucchini for the hair.
DESSERT: Pumpkin Crème Brulee
I admit, I can’t bake. I hate it. But another effort here in trying to mix pumpkin puree with the traditional crème brulee batter. It needed more time in the fridge. Perhaps next year I’ll perfect it.
What demons –both in and out of the closet- scare you the most? What’s your favorite Halloween character? Whom to do you wish to be this year?
And most of all… what’s your favorite scary movie?