We’re now squarely in the midst of the Pumpkin Season. There are pumpkins on doorsteps. Pumpkin lattes at your local coffee house. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin muffins with icing at the bakery, and pumpkin ice cream on the menus at restaurants. And, as of yesterday, even “pumpkin spice” coffee creamer at the fifth-floor coffee station at our firm.
There’s no doubt that the humble pumpkin has made huge inroads into every nook and cranny of our current foodie culture. But the sad reality is, it’s not really pumpkin that people are craving. In fact, the fleshy part of the pumpkin — the part that remains after you scrape out the seeds and the yucky, slimy innards — has virtually no taste. Any good pumpkin pie recipe will have you bake the scraped-out pumpkin, them remove the flesh from the pumpkin skin and puree it, and then add the flavoring that we really associate with a good piece of pumpkin pie. In effect, the pumpkin just provides the ballast for the pie, whereas the delectable taste comes from the added spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and often allspice.
That’s the true fate of the humble pumpkin. It’s on every menu, sure, but in reality it’s become a kind of food Trojan Horse that serves as a cover for consumption of yet more sugars and spices.
Of course, that doesn’t make it any less mandatory to have a slice of pumpkin pie come Thanksgiving.
The Ohio State Buckeyes went to West Lafayette, Indiana last night hoping to play a football game. They laid a colossal pumpkin instead. And not just any pumpkin — an evil, grinning, death’s head pumpkin that was grimly reminiscent of last year’s debacle in Iowa City.
This year’s team has had serious issues on both sides of the ball, and hats off to the Purdue Boilermakers for ruthlessly exposing all of them. Now maybe the Buckeyes will stop thinking about their recruiting ratings and start focusing on becoming a football team that plays defense, runs the ball, and actually blocks and tackles. Otherwise, we members of Buckeye Nation are going to have to deal with more muerte pumpkins in our immediate future.
Call me crazy, but I think that when your formerly bright orange and carefully carved Halloween jack-o’lanterns start to look like deflated penicillin cultures, it’s time for even the most ardent pumpkin lover to concede defeat and remove the rotting remains.
In the Midwest, it’s time to break out the pumpkins, gourds . . . And sweaters. I like the weird, warty gourds best.
Last Sunday Kish and I went out to the Lynd Fruit Farm Market in Pataskala to buy some farm-fresh produce, sausage, and cheeses. When we arrived, we were greeted by two sure signs that fall is upon us here in the Midwest: a flatbed of colorful mums, and a flatbed of beautiful pumpkins.
September is one of my favorite months of the year, in part because it’s such a colorful month, with the leaves turning, mum blossoms displaying their bright hues, and orange pumpkins appearing on doorsteps. As if on cue, the weather has taken a distinctly fall-like turn, too. Today our high was in the 60s, and the low tonight is supposed to get down near 50. Sweater weather!
When family members come to our house on Thursday for Thanksgiving dinner, they will be greeted by pumpkins on our front step. We try to keep pumpkins by the front door from Halloween through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
I like having pumpkins around, and not just because they scream “autumn.” I like the shape and color of them, their plumpness and grooves and bumps and shiny brightness. When I pull into the driveway after work and the headlights reveal the pumpkins, in all their orange rotundity, I can’t help but smile.
I smelled the reek of failure all day today. Because the weather has been so foul, we utterly failed to carve our pumpkins into jack o’ lanterns and then convert the front entrance to our home into the traditional Webner House Beggars’ Night pumpkin walk.
When I walked out of our downtown Columbus offices today for lunch meeting, however, my spirits were lifted when I saw a pickup truck filled with pumpkins parked in the lot next door. At least the driver of that truck, I thought, is properly keeping the pumpkin spirit alive — even if we at Webner House have failed abysmally.
Happy Halloween, everyone!