I've been thinking about my first Halloween. Our family arrived in the US at the end of July in the late 60's. My father's family helped us find a place to live, work, schools, etc. They taught us about this wondrous country and new culture. A couple of months later, we started hearing about Halloween. Our cousins explained that children dressed up in costumes, then went door to door and people gave them candy!
Wow, I loved dressing up in costumes. During our last few years in Cuba, Mamina had let us use her pretty loungerie to play princesses. She knew we would be leaving everything behind when permission to leave the country finally came, so why not let the children have some fun with her pretty things. We did have fun and destroyed her gowns, climbing, running and having sword fights.
So here we were in this new country I was still unsure about, and I find out there is a holiday for dressing up and pretending! Plus the candy. In Cuba we couldn't even buy candy, because there wasn't any to buy, and my cousins tell me that in the US the neighbors are going to give us candy just for dressing up and asking for it!!!!
And so at 13 years old I got to go trick or treating for the first and last time....unless you count taking the children trick or treating.
Halloween has me thinking about pumpkins. Pumpkin in Spanish is Calabaza, but the calabaza I knew in Cuba is nothing like a pumpkin. Well, it is shaped like a pumpkin, but it is a green spotted squash with yellow-orange flesh. I searched all over for a picture of the kind of calabazas we ate in Cuba but couldn't find a good one. This is the closest I found on the web: Calabaza Squash. It's also called West Indian Pumpkin. You can buy it in Latin markets, usually already cut in pieces, because it's hard to cut. Papillo was always searching for the right variety of seeds to grow a proper calabaza in Utah, but was not successful.
My mother often cooked calabaza, because my father loved it. She cut the calabaza in large pieces and cooked it in her pressure cooker, with a little water. It was soft in 5 minutes. While it cooked she sauted onions and garlic in olive oil. Sometimes just garlic. Then she'd take the calabaza out of the pressure cooker, pour garlic and oil over it, sprinkle with salt and scoop right off the peel to eat.
I can't find any real calabaza where I live, but I prepared some butternut squash in a similar way to how my mother cooked calabaza and it was delicious! Acorn squash (or any other hard winter squash) also works.
CALABAZA COCIDA - Winter Squash
½ of a calabaza squash, or butternut squash
3 garlic cloves
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil or butter
Salt to taste
Wash squash. Cut into a few pieces, remove seeds. You can peel it at this point, but it is easier after it's cooked. Put the squash pieces in a pan with about 1 inch of water, cover and steam for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Just five minutes in a pressure cooker, let the pressure disipate completely before opening it. Peel the squash and cut it into smaller pieces
|Pieces of butternut squash|
Or leave it in large pieces
|Acorn squash pieces|
While the squash is cooking, slice onions and sauté them in butter or olive oil, on medium heat, until translucent
Mince or smash the garlic
Add to the sautéing onions and cook 1-2 minutes longer, the smell will be wonderful and permeate your whole house.
Spread this on top of the squash and sprinkle with salt generously.
This is good for you and yummy. Enjoy!
"Calabaza, calabaza, cada uno pa' su casa"- a saying which basically means it's time to go home. Thanks for the reminder, Rosa!