Halloween is a tradition dating back to the Celtic period, and still celebrated today with pumpkins, trick-or-treating, fancy dress and various other peculiarities. In the UK we enjoy snacking on bonfire toffee, candied apples and American-style pumpkin pie, but many countries have their own unique take on culinary traditions for this special occasion…
In Ireland, locals enjoy freshly-baked barmbrak, which is a fruit bread (rather similar to a Christmas cake) traditionally baked with objects inside. The person who finds the object has their fate revealed depending on what the object represents – there is usually a ring, a piece of cloth and a stick. The Irish traditions state that if you find the ring you are sure to marry, if you find the cloth you will be a nun, and if you find the stick you will never marry. This fortune-telling cake is really quite a spooky prospect!
In Spain, Portugal and various other European countries, All Saints’ Day or ‘The Day of the Dead’ is combined with the Halloween festivities and is celebrated over two or three days. During this time, the Spanish enjoy sweet marzipan treats covered in syrup that are known as ‘saint’s bones’ due to their tube-like shape. These are often stuffed with delicious fillings and are extremely popular throughout the country.
Pão-por-Deus is a small, cake-like treat eaten in Portugal on All Saints’ Day, the day after Halloween. This ‘bread of God’ is flavoured with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and is often made with raisins or currants. Much like the ‘trick-or-treat’ tradition, many Portuguese children go from door to door singing or saying prayers in order to receive a piece of this sweet bread.
Italy’s Halloween treats are sometimes referred to as ‘fave dei morti’ or ‘beans of the dead’. These chewy biscuits are traditionally made with pine nuts, ground almonds, lemon zest and cinnamon (although originally the main ingredient was broad beans rather than almonds, hence the name). They are often eaten with coffee or dessert wines.
Halloween is the perfect time of year to get experimental with your taste buds – why not experience these unusual delicacies for yourself? Head over to Ireland, Spain, Portugal or Italy this festive season and you’re sure to be greeted with a traditional spooky treat.