The US Ambassador offers a taste of Halloween

THE STORIED Forbes Park house occupied by the United States Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson turned into a haunted mansion during the otherwise inauspicious Friday the 13th of this month. Despite the “unlucky” date, a good time was had by all, but maybe especially Ms. Carlson herself. Dressed like a witch, she toured guests around her decked out home, explaining, “This is a collection of Halloween decor that I’ve been amassing literally over three decades.” Decor included hands and feet crawling from underneath tables, a marble head in a bell jar, and a speaking crystal ball (not to mention the dressed-up skeleton lying on a pool float).

More than the tricks however, the ambassador held a Halloween party to celebrate American produce, especially for the Fall. That’s why the US Embassy laid out a spread of turkey, duck, prime rib, Kurobota ham, Apple and Tofu Cinnamon cookies (Ms. Carlson’s daughters are vegan), and Idaho Potato Vegan Shepherd’s Pie. The spread itself numbered to about 50 dishes.

Michael Ward, Agricultural Counselor of the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service, said that the spread of dishes came from 18 US states, namely: California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington State, and Wisconsin. “We are the No. 1 single-country supplier of agricultural products to the Philippine market,” he said.

Among the products featured in the spread were US soy, wheat, hops (in the craft beer), wine, and cheeses.

But trade does not go in just one direction: “The Philippines is a very important source of food and agricultural products for the US,” said Mr. Ward. He counts among these cooking oils, processed fruits and vegetables, and fruit juices. Ms. Carlson noted, “The bilateral trade in food and in agricultural products has skyrocketed to P300 billion. That’s quite a lot of food and beverages.” In a statement, the Embassy said that the Philippines ranked as the 8th-largest global market for US food and agricultural products.

Ms. Carlson said that for Halloween back in her US home, they’d serve chili or a beef stew for the dropping temperatures. For Thanksgiving later in the year, they’re having “tofurkey” (for her vegan daughters), but recalled the turkey and cornbread dressing from her youth in Arkansas, as well as her personal favorites, mashed potatoes with goat cheese, and her own recipe for coleslaw with cranberries and slivered almonds. — JLG

Neil Banzuelo

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