Celebrate Halloween with these tasty traditional recipes from different parts of the globe.
Most people believe that the modern day traditions of Halloween stem from the pagan and Celtic celebration of Samhain (meaning the end of the light half of the year). Today in Ireland and Scotland, Halloween is celebrated with bonfires, games, and traditional foods like barmbrack, an Irish fruitcake that contains coins, buttons, and rings for fortunetelling. The name comes from the Gaelic bairin breac meaning speckled bread. It is spiced and richly fruited to comfort you on a cold night.
DIA DE LOS MEURTOS, MEXICO
Pan de Muerto, or “bread of the dead”, is a sweet bread baked during the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This day is celebrated in Mexico on the first 2 days of November. It is a light sweet bread shaped either as one round loaf or many smaller round rolls. Both loaves and rolls are decorated with bone-shaped strips of dough to honour the dearly departed.
Pan de Muerto
HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL, CHINA & SOUTH EAST ASIA
Although not celebrated at the same time as Halloween or the other festivals surrounding All Souls Day, we have included the Hungry Ghost Festival as it is rooted in the beliefs of restless spirits of the dead. The Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, which falls in July or August.
The spirits are 'fed' during the month long celebration with offerings of food and money (burning paper). The living are fed with many delicacies, including Teochew braised duck and these amazing rice patties.
All Saints Day on 1st November is known as Ognissanti in Italy. Chrysanthemums or other flowers are left on the graves of loved ones as well as strangers, bringing graveyards ablaze with colour. Red candles are also left in house windows at sunset and a place is laid at the table in the hope that the departed will visit.
Traditional food varies around the regions but most are a variation of bread or biscuits. Here's a recipe from Lombardy for Oss da mort meaning “bones to bite”. They are lightly spiced, crunchy almond biscuits which they should resemble dry bones and are meant to honour the deceased.
Oss da Mort
The biscuits will be still a little soft when you take them out of the oven but they will crisp up once cool. If still not as crunchy as you would like them when cool then you can put them back in the oven for 10-15 minutes more.
Oss de mord are really excellent dipped in Marsala or with morning caffelatte.
DZIEŃ ZADUSZNY, POLAND
In Poland, All Saints Day and All Souls Day on the 1st and 2nd November respectively, is the time to visit the graves of family members. The holiday is celebrated with candles, flowers, and an offering of prayers for departed relatives at the cemetaries. From pagan times, women would traditionally bake special bread and kutia (wheat berry pudding) for souls on the Zaduszki holiday. The food was brought to the cemetery and given to the poor, children, clerics, or simply left on the graves, believing that this would help to bring wealth and prosperity. Nowadays the special bread and sweets are still made. Here is a recipe for one of them.
There are many more traditions and delicacies associated with the season of Halloween, All Hallows Eve and All Souls Day but its nearly time to go trick or treating! Have a wonderful time remembering the dead and enjoy the recipes.
When the temperature falls and we are headed for winter, roast chestnuts are the perfect cold weather snack. Whether cooked on an open fire, in the oven or bought from a street vendor, people enjoy this inexpensive treat. Chestnuts are pretty good for you too - low in fat, high in fibre, and carrying a good amount of vitamin C, manganese, potassium and iron.
Sweet chestnut trees grow everywhere in Greece, from Macedonian forests in the north and all the way to the slopes of the mountains of Crete in the south.
Guest writer, Peris Tastsidis, tells me that "One of the loveliest memories I have of my mother (who spent her childhood in a cold mountainous town on Mount Olympus), was sitting around the fireplace and eating roast chestnuts together."
In Greek towns and cities from Thessaloniki to Athens, you will find chestnuts as part of cream cakes in elegant patisseries.
The chestnut harvest is cause for celebration in many parts of Greece. Join the locals in mountainous villages, particularly in Messinia, Arcadia, the Peloponnese and in the city of Trikala in central Greece for Chestnut feast festivals. Along with the celebration of roast chestnuts is plenty of food, music and dancing. These events are great to include in gourmet tours, they make a great addition to any itinerary.
Chestnut season coincides with celebrations of wine, so any foodie really should make a visit to one of these fun events. Savour roast chestnuts with a glass of wine or the local tsiporou spirit whilst mingling with the crowd, enjoying the accordion and guitar music.
Sounds like fun? Get in touch to plan your trip to a chestnut festival in Greece.
In these days of online booking and the huge array of travel information available, you may ask yourself why there is still a need for travel agents. There are many reasons why this is a smart choice and using a travel agent to plan travel and book your trips is an upward trend.
If you think that it is only the over 60s who use travel agents to book you should think again. Young travellers are embracing the expertise of travel agents and millenials are as likely as baby boomers to use a travel agent. Travel trade research in both the UK and US show the same results, that travel agents are still relevant in the digital age.
Here are 5 reasons why:
So the only thing which is changing regarding using a travel agent, is the way they offer their services. The high street shop may be in decline but the new breed of travel agents offer their shopfront online but are still a reassuring voice on the end of the phone, contactable via online chat or are just an email away.
Interested in using a travel agent for your next trip or would like to get travel offers sent to your inbox? Get in touch with us today.