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A boo-tiful way to celebrate the ties that bind

By MILLET M. MANANQUIL, The Philippine STAR Published Oct 19, 2023 5:00 am

Last Friday, I went witch-hunting at the residence of United States Ambassador MaryKay Carlson. 

No, it wasn’t witch-hunting in the McCarthyist sense—the Red Scare in history when alleged communists were hunted and persecuted. It was witch-hunting in the Happy Halloween tradition, a break from ghoulish politics.

The ambassador hosted "The Great American Halloween Feast" amid amusing and amazing interiors designed by herself, using decor props that she had saved and recycled during the past decades of her career.

Bewitching is US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson who cast a spell on guests with delicious Halloween potions.

And the most glamorous witch I found was Ambassador Carlson in her black lipstick, metal medieval rings, and pointy hat, casting a spell on the guests.

On several buffet tables were spreads of American food with a Pinoy twist by Filipino chefs Ivory Yat Vaksman and Kalel Chan—a delicious testament to the affinity between the US and the Philippines. 

“We share many things in common, and one of these is the love for food and friendship,” said Carlson. “Food is one of the things that bind us as allies.”

For the Philippines, the US is the biggest source of agricultural products, but it’s a two-way trade. The US is a big fan of Philippine products as well.”

We share many things in common, and one of these is the love for food and friendship. Food is one of the things that bind us as allies.

Carlson pointed out that bilateral trade on food and agricultural products has skyrocketed to P300 billion. US Agriculture officer Counselor Michael Ward added that aside from food and products such as flour and oil, quality US wines are likewise available in the local market.

The event was a celebration of the talent and creativity of Filipino chefs, the excellence of US food and beverage products, and the deep trade relationship between the US and the Philippines.

“It’s like a Halloween boodle fight,” said Carlson, as she welcomed the guests to try the appetizers (which included Manchego cheese done the US way), the salads, the pizzas (notably sisig pizza), the steaks, the poultry, and the desserts.

There was even a table for vegetarians (perhaps inspired by the Ambassador’s two daughters, who are vegans). “Did you ever hear of tofurkey, which is turkey made of tofu?” It may sound scary to some people, but the times call for healthy options, the ambassador pointed out. 

Being a pescatarian, I appreciated the vegetarian table, but my eyes led me to the Lobster Spaghettini, which was so good, I devoured two servings. The tables were cleverly decorated with pumpkins, skeletons, and candelabras straight from horror movies. The eerie vignettes—including body parts sticking out from the coffee table, a soulful pianist making you imagine a creepy concerto, and Uncle Sam in all his bony splendor—highlighted the Halloween feast.

It was all so boo-tiful.