Autumn Festivals & Food

Our meeting this week was seasonally entitled “Autumn Festivals and Food.”
Nine of us gathered at Anne’s to celebrate this transitional time of year, when everything – colours, light, weather – are changing fast in our surroundings and our social lives, and there is much to ponder and celebrate.
With our usual flair, we made this a fun and very enjoyable evening, with the occasional burst of hilarity.,
Of course, Harvest Festivals were mentioned – noting how these have changed, from baskets full of fresh produce to piles of tins and packets. Whilst somehow this doesn’t seem as meaningful or seasonal, its purpose and intent remain the same. Thinking of food, Anne shared (and attempted to make) some very old seasonal recipes – though she admitted the parkin should have been kept for a week but only made the day before and hence ever so slightly on the crumbly side….
Liz shared her research into the origins of Thanksgiving, with its associated controversies and conflicted views of the celebrations. It goes further back and is not as straightforward as one might think.
Bonfire Night (or Plot Night to some) was a popular topic, as we all have memories of family garden bonfires, always on 5th November, involving much H&S-free igniting of Standard Fireworks (“stand clear when you have lit the touch paper as they fly in any direction”); chumping/progging for firewood, plot toffee, pie and peas, parkin and Parkin Pigs (apparently only known in the Bradford area – I had no idea!). The smell of autumn is at its best on Bonfire Night.
We spoke of Halloween and Trick or Treat with it’s Greek origins, and the difference between that and the northern Mischief Night which happens on 4 November.
Israeli autumn festivals gave us very much pause for thought, as Sue had experienced them in happier times. We also heard about a Spanish festival; the Thai Festival of Light; and the German St Martin Day festival with its lanterns and song.
After all the talk, a table filled with appropriate contributions was enthusiastically demolished, including: Spanish orange cakes (sticky/chewy!); seasonal fruit & honey (Israeli style); American brownies; Thai spiced potatoes & lentil dip; toffee apple cake; Parkin Pigs and Halloween chocolate eyeballs….

All rounded off with a few Conker Challenges. It had to be done.