A Hallow’s eve dinner for adults
|October 26, 2010||Posted by ameliaps under "for food's sake", cemetery, halloween, secret dinner|
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28
Coming to terms with our own mortality is not a daily undertaking, it is a slow process that accompanies us through life. Life is as much the absence of death as is it the presence of vitality. It’s that feeble candle flickering within two dark moments, the before and the after. Our task is to keep on holding it steady and protected from the breezes and gusts of winds that wheeze all around us. We can’t run or the wind will blow it out. Daily we just follow the mechanical rhythm of time, we rush rush rush and head towards our dust, never pausing to realize that we can indeed slow down that ticking.
Walking through the narrow corridors at the historical Oakland cemetery, following a trail of luminaries, hand in hand with my husband, our chests heaving with emotion, we were summoned to think about life after life. We stopped for a moment to hear the hissing of the wind through the trees and the peaceful silence of death. Down under us were many many lives gone. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, presidents and unknowns, friends and enemies, all lying there together, at last without the torment, the feuds, the stress. Just breathing in peace, quiet, serenity. At least that is how it felt. And we can’t stop but ask ourselves: is life an illusion, is the world a stage, are we puppets to our own imagination? And from that question a strong feeling of shoulders coming down, releasing the tension, relaxing, letting go, and breathing in the universe comes in.
There is no better time than this during the year to reflect upon our impermanence and our place in life and death. This is Hallow’s eve, this is the day of the dead. In Italy, November 2nd is sacred. Everyone goes to the cemetery to visit their loved ones that are no longer in this earth. I would always go with my father to visit our family altar: and I really remember “feeling” my ancestors. Italian have a very strong respect for the dead. Ugo Foscolo, an Italian poet, wrote that civilization means respecting tombs (the dead), the altars (religion), and weddings (family). Cemeteries have a function in society: they serve to remind us of who we are…and were. At least once a year we should help remind ourselves of how feeble life is.
All this thinking was spurred by an incredible, magical, underground dinner hosted by “For Food’s Sake” at the historical Oakland cemetery. The tall candelabras towering over the mystic monuments created a warm glow perfect for the autumnal (and slightly spooky) night.
We all felt a bit intimidated by the graves but quickly gathered gleefully to enjoy the life we were still fully living!
As we sat within the tombs, we could not help but be extremely thankful of being alive (and thanks was given) and celebrated with a splendid feast prepared by chef Drew VanLeuvan with produce by farmer Don Hardimann of Geezer Farms, who spoke about mushroom foraging (further reading about the evening here).
Todd and I (on the right, above) enjoyed the company. Amongst others, our friends Dana (of onehauteplate.com) and her husband Farzad (on the left, above).
Handmade sausage and pickled beans
Beef carpaccio, preserved acorn squash,crisp farmstead cheese, lemon aioli
Willm Cremant d’Alsace
Butternut squash soup, warm brown butter
Willm Cremant d’Alsace
Russet potato gnocchi, chanterelle mushrooms, wild arugula, feta
Valcome Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc
Smoked magret duck, marinated ruby beets,oj fennel, charred red onion
Huckleberry and semolina cake, lemon glaze, chantilly
This blog post was featured on the Food News Journal on Oct. 27, 2010