I was a pretty literal little kid and always wondered why that person thought I looked like a pumpkin. I mean, really, I wasn't orange, or round. I had arms and legs and no stem. Could it have been that they thought I had a Jack-o-Lantern grin?
I wondered about it a lot until I heard the same neighbour greeting another child the same way. That child looked nothing like me, but nothing like a pumpkin either, so after that I just shrugged the expression off as one of those weird, inexplicable things that adults say.
I still wonder where and when "punkin" became an endearment, but I've grown very fond of pumpkin as a foodstuff in the intervening years.
At our house we eat both sweet and savoury pumpkin dishes. I use pumpkin not only in cakes and pies, but also in soups, stews, and curries. Every fall I put by a great many pints of pumpkin puree and also a quantity of cubed pumpkin, canned in stock, with onions. We always use it up before another harvest season comes our way.
Almost every part of a pumpkin is edible, including the flesh and skin, the seeds, the leaves, and even the blossoms:
- Here in North America, we are most familiar with pumpkin's use as a puree or mash that makes its way into soups, stews, or baked goods.
- In the middle east, pumpkin is most often used for sweets.
- In south Asia, pumpkin finds its way into both sweet and savoury dishes, including a number of delicious vegetarian curries.
- In Australia and New Zealand, pumpkin is often roasted along with other vegetables and in Japan it's cooked as tempura.
- In Italy, pumpkin is mashed, combined with cheeses and used to stuff pasta.
- In Kenya and in China, pumpkin leaves are served as a vegetable dish.
- Pumpkin seeds are an important ingredient in the cooking of the southwestern US and Mexico, and pumpkin blossoms (and other squash blossoms) are commonly served battered and fried.
Pumpkin is a popular food for good reason: It's relatively easy to cultivate and tolerant of a wide variety of growing conditions. It's nutritious too: 100 grams of pumpkin contains only 26 calories and no saturated fats or cholesterol, but is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, carotene, lutein, folates, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin, pantotheic acid, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.
Wow! Those are some nutrient rich calories! No wonder pumpkin is popular with dieters!
Well, with everyone really. I don't know a single person who doesn't like pumpkin in some form.
What's your favourite thing to make with pumpkin? Do share. I'd love to know. :)