2020.11.01, by Blast Ant

We had a lot of good food for this year’s Halloween.

Fried rice made in the leftover oil skimmed off our Ethiopian chicken peanut stew. The rice was pleasantly flavoured by the peanut and spicy from the berbere. Also a pretty orange colour that matched the falling leaves.

Baked kale crisps. Just spray with cooking oil and bake for 8 minutes. Served with flaked salt.

Baked Brussels sprouts, served with reduced balsamic vinegar with onion powder mixed in, and freshly squeezed lemon.

Homemade apple cider. We make this with peeled oranges, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, freshly minced ginger, star anise, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and reduced spiced black rum. We make this as a concentrate and everyone gets jars to take home. Our children and I prefer this with seltzer water, while the (other) adults have this with hot cinnamon water. Ansel and Bedivere spike theirs with additional spiced black rum (that isn’t reduced).

Shiso mashed potatoes. Carrots, caramelised onions, bacon, Greek yoghurt, and shiso fumi furikake. It has a really nice colour, the Greek yoghurt makes it rich, brown onions and crispy bacon make it savoury and add texture, and the fine shiso leaves gives it a fresh, sweet, basil-like herbal taste.

Orange pulled pork. The sauce is made out of a fond of the fried onion and bacon and the fruit solids leftover from making apple cider. Honey and freshly squeezed orange juice complete the sauce.

Japanese cheesecake soufflé. We use homemade filmjölk (a kind of mild, drinkable tabletop yoghurt) in place of milk for enhanced richness and tartness. In celebration of the season, I added ground cinnamon and ginger to the batter, too. Served with honey glazed atop.

Everyone was dressed up. My brother as, some kind of warlock, I suppose, and Julia Verne complemented him, dressing as a fellow witch. Yumeka wore a stylised fox mask and robes. Ansel was Adam Jensen… that really upset my brother, especially when he did the voice—“I never asked for this”—he’s too good! Bedivere dressed as, well… Sir Bedivere. (Ansel is sighing. “Did he really have to come dressed like that…?”) Iseul was a giant puppy! Leotrim was so quiet, it was almost like he didn’t come… same with Nova, though he actually matched with Yumeka and came in robes and spirit mask. Ai was a werewolf and Leóša—she was supposed to be a zombie princess, but after Ansel saw the make-up on her the other day, with the blood, and scarring, and darkened eye sockets, he couldn’t handle it. The poor man. Father really couldn’t handle seeing his daughter like that. “You look like an abuse victim…!” So she offered to be a “knight”, to protect him from things like that. (She thought she made him remember being hurt… Oh my gosh…) So she went as Utena, except in red, like Anthy. Hmm…

We watched Scary Godmother, as usual. This year the kids asked what a “kid” was—one of the points in the story is a make-up legend that the monsters will eat all the kids in the world if they aren’t placated with candy—and we, had to, pause again. What is a kid? At what point does one stop being a kid? Ansel and Bedi call me “kid”, even though, I’ve long stopped being one… except not really… So…

Then the “Horrortorio” of Joseph Horovitz’s Hoffnung Astronomical Musical Festival. A pop-culture horror parody of the baroque narrative works of Bach and Handel. The Draculas are hosting a monstrous wedding party, celebrating the marriage of the daughter Dracula to Frankenstein’s monster.

The Draculas prepare
To greet with loving care
Each fiendish ghoulish guest
Who comes at their behest!
The castle is filthy,
The blood is all on ice,
The babies are frying,
The vaults are stocked with vice!

Afterwards, select songs from Yasushi Ishii’s Hellsing score, some of the usual karaoke songs, and finally ended with the definitive rendition of “Satorl Marsh - Night”. “This nature, this earth, this sea—Eaten.” My brother was brought to tears. Ansel, too… See, we’ve been thinking of the dead a lot, as we always do, but Halloween is a special night. Samhain—we always think of the dead, and everything that we’ve lost this year. Yumeka introduced us to this tradition… Well, it was his birthday, too, and the day Giovanni met him. Covered in blood… And his first words were—Giovanni’s first words—were, “Is this a dream?” And that’s how Yumeka got his name, and he’s insisted upon it since then.

We’ve lost so much this year. Giovanni included.

I came out with more scars than I realised.

My father said to my brother, “You’re allowed to disappoint me. You’re my son.”