Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween misgivings

Tomorrow there is a Halloween party here at the Manor for the students here. It's being planned by students, and I'm doing all the food. We're a little nervous, though, because the two who are planning it are straight out of undergraduate, are both English, and both went to Oxford for an undergraduate. And one of them in Avram's class yesterday made a statement about how Halloween isn't a very pleasant holiday, and that people all get drunk and throw up, and how she was out partying, and saw a girl lying in her own vomit, and her friends calling and ambulance for her. So this would be a good sign for our party, right? That it'll be really tame. Except it's a bring your own bottle party, which they all are here, and the email for it says to come with an open mind.

I'm worried. For one thing, we're bringing a toddler to this party. Earlier in the term a married girl from Denmark had a party when her husband was visiting, and it was a byob party. But it was really very pleasant; there were some snacks, and I had water to drink, and we all just sat and talked about everything from the historical significance of the higab (the head covering in Islam for women) to the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice (which apparently is a worldwide phenomenon; girls from Poland to Germany to America were all swooning in that room over Mr. Darcy). It was the one of the first times I had really been around people drinking alcohol, but they were all so nice and adult about it; everyone who had brought alcohol had their drinks, but they drank slowly, and responsibly like, and no one was drunk at all, and overall I was very happy with it. For one thing, no one had any hard liquor, so it's a lot harder to get drunk.

But although this girl despises the over drinking on Halloween, she said she's tired of the first thing anyone thinks of when they think of Halloween is throwing up. To me this says a lot about the kind of company she keeps, because I've never thought of throwing up and Halloween in the same thought at all. I know I'm not an average American, but I've enjoyed many Halloweens and Halloween parties alcohol free, and had a great time. In England, though, the holiday is newly imported from America, and it seems they've only imported a couple of aspects; trick or treating and annoying partying by teenagers and early twenties. In America it's part of the culture at all levels.

This is why I'm worried; that having such a narrow view of the holiday, both personally and culturally, they'll plan a party that isn't at all the sort that I want to attend. But we have to go, because as I said earlier I'm doing all the food. This started because I had originally planned to throw my own Halloween party, and I had come up with a menu and everything, and then another movement began for a party (I hadn't discussed mine with anyone), and so I volunteered to help with that one instead, and these two girls had already volunteered, so I got the food, and they got everything else.

Really, the food is my favorite part of planning a party, and anyone knows who attended my parties back in Provo that food is really the main planned thing anyway, because I don't like party games, and my friends and I like to talk enough that that's a good party activity. The program gave us forty pounds for the party; I got 20 for food, and they got 20 for everything else. It had better be some pretty exciting decorations.

We've bought all the food, and I must say, I am excited about that. It's all American food, but this is an unapologetically American holiday, and I'm an American, so it's what they get. We're going to have Caramel Popcorn (homemade; everything is homemade in this list), Tortilla chips with a 'spiderweb' dip, ie like a mini seven layer dip, except the top layer is sour cream, that's piped out to look like a spiderweb. Also served with that will be mashed monster brains (guacamole). Then veggies and dip, which I don't have any cute names for. Then graveyard cake, which is like dirt cake, ie it has pudding mixed with whipped cream, and then layered with oreo crumbs and the crumbs on top look like dirt. We didn't buy gummy worms here, but we do have gummy snakes, and then I'll stick some butter cookies shaped like tombstones in the top, and voila, a graveyard. I wanted to get gummy skeletons and put them under each grave, but they are very short on Halloween candy here. Very, very short. Finally we'll also have butter cookies, which Avram likes more than sugar cookies, that will be hand cut out into Halloween shapes, because they don't have any Halloween cookie cutters here, with real buttercream icing (made with butter and cream, instead of nasty shortening and milk) colored to match the shapes.

I know this is like a laundry list, but it's what I've been spending my time on lately. For one thing, it's hard to find food that works here, for all of this. You're supposed to actually use cool whip instead of whipped cream for the graveyard cake, but they don't have that here. That's not really a loss, because whipped cream tastes better anyway, but then I don't have a mixer here, so unless something magically turns up, tomorrow I'm going to be whipping cream by hand. Our ancestors did it, so I know it's possible. And pudding here means a cake type thing, and so I didn't buy chocolate pudding, I bought a chocolate dessert mix you mix with milk, and I hope desperately turns into pudding.

I'll let y'all know how it turns out; hopefully well.


  1. Do let us know how the party turned out. all the food--that's a lot of work for one person but your food sounds fun. You're a clever gal.

  2. I once beat egg whites by hand. That was murder. But I was very proud of myself (read: sore) afterwards.

  3. The A&E version of Pride and Prejudice was really just the last of the BBC's long line of versions of Jane Austins classic.

    I'm glad your willing to give those Brit a good dose of Yank holiday. I think the big problem with Halloween in England is its proximity to Guy Fox day. Guy Fox day gets all the celebration while Halloween gets ignored. Additionally Halloween is a kinda Catholic and Irish Holiday and so probably was not as popular with the Anglican Brits.

    I guess her feelings about Halloween are like mine about New Years in the US. There isn't much to do, I mean I suppose if you are drinking the party seems better but it usually ends with a lot of noise at midnight and then the depressing reality that a year has gone bye and you have done nothing you planned to.

    So yeah I can understand if you just make something a drinking holiday it can get rather dull quickly especially laying in that vomit.

    Anyway good luck

  4. sounds like the food will be good! I hope the party goes well. Cant wait to hear all about it! i would have been nervoue about what to make for food since they are not american.. I hope they like it!

  5. oh and now I want to see that movie to see this handsome mr darcy!