Last weekend the clocks went back signalling the start of winter and the imminent arrival of Halloween. Whilst the cold, dark nights and plunging temperatures of the UK are a far cry from the slightly cooler evenings and going dark by seven(ish) of Tenerife, the spirit of Halloween is alive and well, and the humble pumpkin takes centre stage.
The tradition of Halloween dates back to the Celts when the festival of Samhain was celebrated to mark the changing of the seasons from summer to winter. The Irish brought the tradition to the US and it has grown from there, somewhat losing sight of its roots and becoming more commercialised along the way.
Here in the Canary Islands, Halloween is actually the Eve of All Saint’s Day (1st November) which is a public holiday so it’s a chance for having fun without having to get up for school, or work, the next day. As it falls on a Sunday this year, it’s Monday the 2nd November which will be the holiday. The emphasis on Tenerife tends to be primarily on children and with Carnaval still more than three months away, the Canarios’ love of dressing up gets an early outing as mothers proudly dress their offspring as Salem witches and little devils. There are often organised parties in the local park involving plays, entertainers and games for the little ones. In Santa Cruz, Parque García Sanabria is usually the host.
Thriving in Tenerife’s warm and humid soil, you’ll find pumpkin (calabaza) in supermarkets throughout much of the year, usually cut into large wedges and pre-packed. You’ll also see them scattered over rooftops in rural hamlets such as Masca where their weight helps to ensure the roof stays on when the wind gets up.
But October is the season of mellow fruitfulness when pumpkins are at their peak and all month they fill the supermarket shelves with their oversized bulk and skins of assorted colours. As Halloween approaches, you’ll see the traditional, orange winter pumpkin, complete with its stencilled Jack O’ Lantern ready for you to cut out and light up.
A member of the cucurbitaceae family which includes more than 850 species of pumpkins, courgettes, cucumbers, calabash, gourds and melons, the pumpkin is low in calories and salt, high in fibre and packed with vitamins – a real super food. It’s also delicious as a soup, a main meal and a cake so if you haven’t given it recipe room before, Halloween is a good time to start when the vegetable is at its best.
To get you on your way, here’s an easy risotto recipe. Happy Halloween 🙂
Pumpkin Risotto (serves 4)
280 grams Arborio rice
70 grams unsalted butter
125 grams pumpkin, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 medium onion
1.5 pints vegetable stock
125 grams grated Parmesan
glass white wine
Finely chop onion and fry in olive oil until they begin to change colour. Add pumpkin cubes and sauté for a few minutes. Place half the stock in a separate pan to heat and when hot, add the white wine and the rice and reduce the heat slightly. Add the pumpkin and onions and continue to simmer for 20 minutes, adding more stock as needed until rice is tender. Remove from the heat, add Parmesan and butter, mix and serve.
Category : about tenerife
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