October, the time of autumn, but also of savory dishes made with chestnuts and pumpkin, which contribute to making Halloween a unique celebration. What are its origins? In truth, the origins of the Halloween holiday are very ancient and derive from an important Celtic celebration: Samhain, the deity who ruled the cold and dark season. For the Celts, October 31st marked the end of summer and the beginning of a new year. They believed that the moments of transition between two seasons held great magical powers, and Samhain represented the most important annual transition as it coincided with the end of the harvest and the herding of livestock down to the valleys. This is how the Celts prepared to face the harsh winter.
According to Celtic tradition, on the night between October 31st and November 1st, Samhain summoned the spirits of the dead. Therefore, the population gathered in the woods to light a great Sacred Fire and, under a large oak tree, burned offerings for the deity. On this occasion, the Celts wore the skins of dead animals to scare away the souls of the departed. It was also the custom of these people to leave food outside their homes, and the reason? It’s simple – so that the spirits passing by could satisfy themselves, thus avoiding playing tricks. From this tradition, the characteristic phrase probably originated: “Trick or treat?”
After this brief excursion into the origins of Halloween, I return to writing about the actual theme of my article, which is the recipe for Pumpkin, Chestnut, and Pancetta Velouté.
Ingredients for 5 people:
- 600 grams of Violina pumpkin
- 15 chestnuts
- One red onion
- 150 grams of thinly sliced pancetta
- Slices of bread
- Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- Turmeric, salt, and pepper, as needed
The Violina pumpkin typically measures between 20 and 35 cm in length and weighs between 2 and 4 kg. This fruit is typically associated with autumn.
Its sensory characteristics include an elongated shape with yellow-orange, rough, tender skin, and a fragrant aroma released when cut.
After washing the pumpkin, I remove its skin, seeds, and fibers. I slice it and cut it into cubes.
I peel and cut the chestnuts.
In a pan, I sauté the onion in oil, then add the sliced pumpkin and chestnuts, cooking for about 10 minutes. I season with salt, pepper, and turmeric, but be careful not to overdo it! I add water to cover and let it cook for another 10 minutes.
Now, I use a blender to puree everything and return it to the heat, stirring. I bring it to a boil until I achieve the desired consistency. Finally, I sauté the slices of pancetta, take the bread croutons, and place them on top of the cream. And at this point, all that’s left to say is: “Enjoy your meal!”
In English-speaking countries, “Halloween” (from “All Hallow Eve,” meaning “eve of All Saints’ Day”) is the name for the evening preceding November 1st. It constitutes an occasion for celebration, especially for children. Its origins can be traced back to pre-Christian traditions in Celtic Europe, particularly those in the British Isles. October 31st marked the end of summer in this region, and according to popular belief, it was the time when, from the evening and throughout the night, the souls of the deceased returned to Earth, joining witches, demons, and ghosts. A remnant of this aspect of the celebration is still evident in the costumes children wear when they go from house to house asking for sweets and coins.