Boo! Remember the days when parents fretted over the possibility that some sadistic stranger had embedded razor blades into apples and passed them out on Halloween? The irony, of course, is that your "cautious" parents sent you into an insulin coma by letting you consume a metric ton of high-fructose corn syrup in a single night, which is far more dangerous than a few cuts on your tongue. There's nothing scarier than type 2 diabetes, folks, and who even has the time to embed a blade into an apple?
The economic and social toll of sugar-related chronic disease could all be avoided if America got rid of Halloween in favor of a fall festival celebrating seasonal foods. Come on, the kids will love it! Promise! Who wouldn't, when you're talking about some of the following delights.
Gourds, of course
You gotta get yourself some gourds -- you won't regret it, sitting around in your apartment staring at gourds with funny faces carved into them. Where have all your friends gone? To gourd-free climes, which is unfortunate because they're missing out on all sorts of benefits from beta-carotene.
OK, so technically there are some differences between gourds and squash and all that jazz, but we're talking about the kinds of squash you can eat. And there's almost an infinite variety! Try roasting butternut, Thelma Sanders, gray kabocha, carnival, Sucrine du Berry, Honeynut, red kabocha, Bernie Sanders, nuthoney, and flan! Only some of those are made up.
What a world we live in! Just felt like saying that, nothing to do with chicory, though chicory is a confusing mess in its own right, kind of like the world we live in. Plants like Belgian endive, escarole, and radicchio fall into the chicory family, and you can also find the root form ground up as a somewhat passable coffee substitute. Otherwise, you can stuff some endives, or turn frisée into a classic salade Lyonnaise. Bonus: chicory helps you poop!
It's finally game season, which is a more fun way of saying, "The Killing Time." Round up some of the boys in your flatbed truck, grab your guns, and shoot at the first thing that moves, Dick Cheney-style. No, wait, that's not right. Have someone else do that for you, then reap the rewards in the form of stuffed pheasant. Nothing is better than living off the land, and if it reduces your reliance on gross grocery store meat, full of hormones and antibiotics and bubonic plague and existential angst, so much the better. You can experience the joys of fall grilling, too -- get some herbs on that pheasant (rosemary???) and let the fire work its magic.
As you can see from the photo, quince (quinces?) are similar to apples, only they're disgusting and impossible to eat raw, so you'll have to cook them, maybe in a little wine -- but aren't you looking for a challenge? Or are you too set in your relaxed, bourgeois existence, munching on an apple bred to be tasteless and mass-produced? Cook up some quince and relish the labor; pretend you're ingesting buckets of antioxidants in ancient Rome. It is Halloween, after all, and you can pretty safely assume there aren't any maniacs going around putting razors in quince(s).
Yep, fall's here, so potatoes are on the menu -- Kennebecs are known for the superior French fries they produce, thanks to their low water content. One article claims that Kennebecs "taste more like a potato than most potatoes do," and the website Kennebec potato dot com adds, "It tastes very much like a potato." These statements introduce problems of epistemology that are unsolvable in this little blurb.
Kennebecs are pretty easy to find, but don't be fooled by those boring old russets masquerading as Kennebecs, ready to sneak into your first daughter's debutante ball and steal her heart from a potato that's clearly a better choice for marriage. Wow, not sure how we got there, but the point is that you'll seriously up your fried-tuber game when you make the switch to Kennebecs.
Regina Dei Ghiacci iceberg lettuce
This isn't your decrepit grandmother's iceberg lettuce -- Regina Dei Ghiacci, which you must say in full each time you discuss it, has a more bitter flavor, dark green color, and a delicate texture compared with the already-browning stuff at the bottom of your chicken rice. Celebrity chef and possible deviant Dan Barber calls it "the mother of iceberg," claiming modern iceberg has "been dumbed down to white, tasteless nothing." True! Not sure he intended that to be a metaphor for America, but you can bypass the simplicity of that image and get back to your roots this fall by making a Regina Dei Ghiacci salad, maybe with some roasted squash on top to get your greens AND beta-carotene.
Green Macerata cauliflower
When you're thinking about cauliflower, which you surely are on a regular basis, you should ask yourself, "Why not Green Macerata?" Why not, indeed. Back in the day, they used to call green cauliflower "broccoli," but it seems as though every veggie is a special little snowflake now and needs its own name. Anyway. This is basically just cauliflower, and there are SO MANY WAYS to cook cauliflower and absorb all those bangin' brassica benefits.
October: when your cauliflower turns green, your eggplants go white, your rivers run red with blood, locusts plague your fields, and the firstborn of each family is struck down with an incurable palsy. Sorry, got a little carried away there with all this food turning expectations upside down! White eggplants really put the "egg" in eggplant, plus it's just fun to have a white eggplant every once in a while, ya know? Try using white eggplant as the "noodles" in a gluten-free lasagna, and watch your surprised guests say, "Um, there's eggplant in this lasagna?" You'll all have a laugh together before you instruct them to eat those cores, because that's where all the antioxidants are.
Chinese green radish
We live in a global society, so you should feel comfortable welcoming this Chinese radish into your home, right before slicing it to pieces and throwing it into a stir-fry or on top of a Regina Dei Ghiacci salad. These can be exceedingly spicy if you're not careful, and it makes you understand the blood and sweat so many horticulturalists, farmers, and geneticists put in to make those mild, perfectly red and round radishes the standard at the grocery store. Spit in the face of their hard work by expanding your brassica repertoire -- that's right, radishes are related to cauliflower and broccoli and every other vegetable you'll be eating in this spicy, crunchy autumn/winter. Another possibility? Warm some butter to room temperature, add a little sea salt and lemon juice, and you've got a perfect appetizer for your solo gourd-carving session!
Ah, the freshwater bass, the animal you used to catch and kill with dad, before he ran off with the neighbor's wife and you never saw him again. Don't let those old emotional wounds stop you from eating bass, though -- for some reason, the humble bass is relegated to fish fries and cookouts, even though it's got a mild flavor, is abundant across America, and is incredibly sustainable. There aren't even any decent stock photos of largemouth or smallmouth bass -- who knows what's shown above, probably some radioactive amphibious creature fished out of the Danube by a desperate stock photographer.
Would it help if we called it something Japanese, like suzuki? Perhaps! The point is that you shouldn't be so picky about your proteins, and there's plenty of bass to go around. Until a chef embraces it as a "hot" local ingredient, you might as well bread and fry it like they did in the good old days.
Half your weight in candy
Being an adult doesn't mean you should stop eating candy, dressing as a sexy member of the medical field, and having unprotected sex with a stranger like you did when you were a carefree kid. Go out there and enjoy the holiday! After all, you have to wake up early for All Saints Day mass on November 1st.
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