Be proud, pumpkin
Davis, CA 95616
On the vegetable farm, what must a glistening bell pepper or a dashing sprig of basil think of that humblest and squattest of the squashes, the pudgy pumpkin? Really, the pumpkin must be something of a joke to the other vegetables in the garden, for while the graceful nightshades are born celebrities of autumnal table fare, those orange blobs that swell gracelessly in the mud and assume grotesque and unshapely proportions are mostly destined for the doorstep. Carved by a clumsy child’s hands into feeble glowing ghouls, they have one evening of stardom, then melt and rot in the days after Halloween.
But November is here, and some pumpkins remain—reasonably-sized sorts that go wonderfully in the kitchen and on the table. The pumpkin pile at the Davis Food Co-op, for instance, may offer the best variety currently available. The sugar pie variety is sweet and does very nicely in savory dishes, sliced, sautéed, and caramelized like squash. The sweet but dry-fleshed Jarradale, the ghostly white Lumina, the Jack-Be-Little and We-Be-Little, and the Musquee de Provence are similarly versatile.
And with Thanksgiving almost upon us, we finish this week with a tip on making pie, offered by “Liz” (she was newspaper shy) at the Davis Food Co-op’s produce department: “Just use butternut squash, because pumpkin pie is all about the spices.”