The US Ambassador’s great American Halloween feast

What better way to celebrate an all-American holiday than with the American ambassador herself.
True enough, it was every inch a Halloween treat because the United States Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson made a career out of it (a grotesque translation of that famous Pinoy catchphrase).


On Friday night she hosted the Great American Halloween Feast at her official residence in Forbes Park, Makati City.

“Welcome to our haunted mansion and to this Great American feast,” greeted Carlson. She’s dressed as a Halloween witch complete with pointy black hat and garbed in an elaborate long black dress with skull bracelets

“It’s an honor for me to welcome you for what is a quintessential American holiday – the Halloween,” she said before a select group of media.


The house was decorated and bedecked with all things spooky, scary and creepy — skeletons and cobwebs hanging from the wall lights or sitting on the piano and dining tables, yellow jack-o’-lanterns, disembodied heads, hands and feet, goblins, large spiders, bloody handprints, zombie, Dracula, vampire etc.

Carlson had every nook and cranny of the house looking like a real chilling ghost house for the guests. She claimed she personally decorated the entire place herself.
“I have been amassing literally (Halloween decors) over three decades,” she shared. “I love Halloween. People always ask me, ‘How much time did it take?’ And I’d always say, ‘That’s the wrong question to ask. You need to ask me, ‘how much fun did you have?’”

“People go out to play golf and nobody asks how much time did it take? They’re having fun. For me, putting up these decorations, even hanging each one of them and moving around the birds so that they look so real, that’s fun. Maybe for some people, it would not be so much fun,” said Carlson, adding that, “But at the end of October, all these will come down and all the Christmas decors will go up. I don’t waste a second of my opportunity here in the Philippines.”


American feast

To coincide with the early Halloween celebration, Carlson was also proud to present the Great American Halloween feast, a showcase of premium-quality US food and beverage products available in the Philippines.

Organized by the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, in partnership with US Trade associations, State Departments of Agriculture and local importers, the Great American Halloween Feast featured the availability, variety and high quality of 55 kinds of food and beverage products from 18 US states. These include the cheeses, wines, meat products, sauces, jams, ready-to-eat food, flour and many more.

“Filipinos and Americans share many things in common — and one of those is the love for food and friendship,” she said. “Food is one of the things that really unites people and brings us together as friends, partners and allies.

She added: “I am not a chef or a cook but I do like to bake and decorate, and I recognize good food when I see it. For the Philippines, the US is the biggest source of foreign food and agricultural products. The flour has been one of the biggest imports for the Philippines. But, it’s a two-way trade. We are big fans of Philippine products as well. In recent years, the bilateral trade in food and agricultural products has skyrocketed to P300 billion and that’s quite a lot of food and beverages. Philippine imports from the US reached US$4.3 billion in 2022.”

Filipino chefs Ivory Yat Vaksman and Kalel Chan (Raintree group of restaurants) curated a festive, Halloween-themed menu featuring a wide variety of dishes made with US food products and ingredients, such as Duck Roulade, Kurobuta Ham, Prime Rib Roast and Scallop and Lobster Spaghettini Aglio Olio.

Other delectable dishes included Sriracha Butter US Chicken WingsPulled US Pork Barbecue Quesadillas, Sisig Pizza, Avodaco Hummus with crispy US Chickpeas and Flatbread, Idaho Potato Vegan Shepherd’s Pie and Providore Salad.
Fruit juices, sparkling mocktails, local craft beers made with US ingredients and a range of fine wines from California and Washington State complemented the evening’s savory dishes.

“So, Halloween shouldn’t be scary,” quipped Carlson. “It should be fun!”