Some traditions too tasty to ignore

by Andy Bryenton

The northern hemisphere is entering autumn and harvest season as we ramp up for summer, and many of the traditions of the ‘old world’ carry over to New Zealand with surprising twists. For all those who love a full Christmas roast despite the shorts-and-jandals weather, here are some options for November to get a head start on festive dining and entertainment.

Halloween may be a cheesy American holiday filled with empty calories and candies, but it’s growing in popularity for the kids. And there’s definitely something great about the finest of Halloween traditions — curling up on the couch with a laughably bad horror movie and fresh popped oven top popcorn. For the record, it was the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve which kicked off the treats and tricks — the witches and devils came from Hollywood.

Another Stateside tradition at this time of year is Thanksgiving. If you have a United States themed restaurant or pub nearby, dig into the goodness of this yearly banquet. Or take the time to prepare that most pilgrim-esque dessert, sweet pumpkin pie.

It’s one many Kiwis have never tried, but it’s an easy recipe and well worth the time to bake. Other cultures celebrate the harvest at the same time, and for those who love seafood, perhaps it’s not a bad idea to base a meal on the Blessing of the Oceans, a tradition from Greece held around Christmas, originally aimed to bless fishermen, recall the memory of the three wise men in the Bible (who, like sailors, followed the stars), and celebrate the Greek Orthodox Epiphany.

It’s become an excuse for a massive seafood banquet, as well as a ceremony when divers compete for a golden crucifix thrown into the sea. Also from the Mediterranean comes the Olivagando, celebrated in Italy.

It’s a day all about the olive harvest, though you can bet that delicious pasta, wine and rich, thick sauces make the grade as well. It’s a great excuse for a decadent Italian dinner in November. 

Then again, there’s no need for an excuse to try any of these delicious national celebrations of good food.

Pumpkin pie and turkey, spicy Greek seafood and platters of Italian antipasto with olives, cheeses and bread are always delicious, all year round. 

Tell your friends and family it’s a cultural exchange.