Trick or Treat for the Childless

Originally published October 31, 2011. 

Every Halloween, in the elevator of my apartment building, there’s a sign-up sheet for residents willing to welcome treat-or-treaters. It’s never a long list, mostly just a smattering of names of people pressured into opening their apartments so desperate parents have a few places their kids can beg for candy. See, in the city, it’s considered poor etiquette to hit up another hi-rise for Halloween hooch—some parents would even say it’s dangerous without a background check and 23andMe DNA sample of every tenant.

And every October, with all good intentions, I promise myself that this will be the year I’m one of those people every parent is grateful for and every kid loves. The one who dresses up in some whacked-out bizarre—but not child-molester bizarre—costume and hands out high-sucrose booty by the Dutch oven-full. I’ve even gone so far as to come up with schematics of how I’ll transform my apartment’s gallery into a chamber of horrors rivaled only by The Walking Dead, with synthetic cobwebs, red Karo-syrup blood, and a gnawed hand or two poking out of the coat closet for added effect.

Inevitably, though, the day arrives and I’m ticked off, not to mention a touch pre-man-opausal, because once again time got away from me. The only things I have to hand out are a few fuzzy Mentos from my winter jacket and a couple of tiny bottles of limoncello a guest gave The One and I as a host gift.

American Horror Story: Cult

So there I sit, silent in my darkened apartment, slumped in the Queen Anne chair, glowering. And as the cacophony of shouts and bangs on the door crescendoes, I hurl invectives at the sugar-crazed mafia of six-year-olds in the hallway because they’re making me miss the latest episode of American Horror Story: Cult.

Some years I slink out to the nearest SweetGreens, fearful I’ll come face to face with a co-op board member in the elevator who’ll look at the sign-up sheet bereft of my name and then skewer me with a slow-burning gaze that says, You will never be able to get a potential buyer for your apartment through the co-op interview. Ever.

But this year I’ve devised a simple way to assure that we misanthropic childless tenants will throw open our doors for the kiddies in the building—even for little Lili, the petulant six-year-old next door who I’m certain will grow up to be a leather-clad dominatrix with tattoos covering 82 percent of her body. It’s a little game of quid pro quo. I win, you win, and the kids are none the wiser. So neighbors, if you want me to give the fruits of the Fruit of your Looms a multimedia phantasmagorical display they’ll never forget, here’s what I’d like to see in my trick-or-treat bag, which will be hanging prominently from the doorknob of apartment 13G:

1. First, nix the apples—with or without razor blades. And forget anything with oats, seeds, or, god forbid, flax. Halloween isn’t, nor has it ever been, a high-fiber holiday. Just ask your kids.

2. You know me: a great, big, fat lobe of foie gras delivered Halloween afternoon. This way when the kids stop by I can shock them by eating offal.

3. A bottle of 1977 vintage Port. Warre’s will work; so will Fonseca Val de Mendiz. (A gift of my own quinta, or wine estate, in the Douro valley in Portugal will certainly earn you a platinum treat this October 31.)

4. A six-month supply of crisp-fried pommes frites tossed with white truffle oil and served with Gorgonzola cream sauce and Cabernet demi-glace from Restaurant Moosilauke in Kent, CT. Here’s the catch: The place has closed, so you’ll have to track down the chef. Think of it as trying to contact the dead. Spooky!

5. A dozen caramel macarons with sea salt from Pierre Hermé in Paris (on rue Bonaparte, naturellement). While you’re there, a box of Truffles (Chocolat au Lait & Thé Vert) couldn’t hurt.

6. A Moby-size container of Sex, Drugs, and Rocky Road rice pudding from Rice to Riches. No toppings, please. I’m a purist.

7. Suzanne Goin’s Cipollini Onion and Bleu de Gex Tart with Roasted Red Grapes, made by her at her restaurant Lucques in Los Angeles.

8. My kitchen, renovated. This is an expensive one, I know, which is why I think this should be a group effort. If all of you parents in the F, G, and J lines get together and work with the co-op board and Sam, our super, you can knock it out in time for Thanksgiving. I’ll even bake a few pumpkin pies as a thank you. (Tip: Miele, Traulsen, and Viking appliances make me very, very happy.)

9. What good is a new kitchen with a bad view? The water tower on the roof of the building next door is the only thing standing between me and a view of Central Park. Moving it about 30 feet south would do the trick.

Kitchen Window

10. My own show on the Food Network. This isn’t as hard as it seems. You know the guy in the building who wears nothing but black Dolce & Gabbana suits and black shirts? He’s in the film business. (I admit it. I read his mail over his shoulder in the elevator.) He’s got to have some pull. After all, he’s friends with some executive from one of the networks. (I heard him screaming into his cell phone one afternoon in the lobby of our building.) So, Mr. Producer, if you can snag me a show on TVFN, just wait till you see what I’ll cook up for your twins (who, by the way, are mini terrorists when you and your wife aren’t looking).

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. After all, there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa still to come. Hey, I’ll be your Santa bitch, as long as you keep my stocking stuffed.

The word "David" written in script.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. Dear David, I finished reading your book Notes on a Banana this morning. Thank you for being so brave and open and for sharing your story. It was so moving and compelling and inspiring. I am a Canadian fan and fellow foodie. I often forward your recipes to my friends and fellow foodies. Thanks for being you. You are a gift. Just remember there are lots of us who have love to share. Best wishes to you for a lifetime of love, happiness, and good cooking and good eating.

    1. Dearest Libby, thank you so much for you kind and lovely words. I hope by sharing my story, others will have an easier time with theirs.

  2. We have neighborhoods where jello shots are passed out to the adults making the rounds with their kiddos.