We started this Halloween morning with another wonderful batch of pumpkin muffins that I made last night and stored away for the morning.
Before I went to work, I read "Play with your Pumpkins", another wonderful and amusing book by Joost Elffers and Saxton Freymann, the writers of "Play with your Food". This book not only shows wonderful pumpkin creatures made by playing on the pumpkins' natural features and using some simple food additives like bean eyes, it also contains a world of scientific, folkloric, and recipic information! On that note, here are some facts about the pumpkin:
The pumpkin family is known as Cucurbitaceae, which includes a host of gourds and other similar fruits like the cucumber and the squash. The pumpkin is from the New World, which means that it is indiginous to the Americas and any pumpkin recipes that are now included in national dishes from anywhere in the Old World were created after the Americas were explored. Although the word pumpkin was used to describe dishes eaten long before this time, it actually referred to another gourd that is different.
Pumpkins are easy to grow yourself but they do best if you start them up under a glass bowl or jar and then transplant them when hardy. They aren't bothered by weeds and love compost.
Pumpkins are now eaten all over the world, prepared in a wide variety of methods. Some prefer them savory, and some prefer them sweet. Here in the US, most people are just familiar with the pumpkin in the form of desserts and have never tried it in what I consider to be it's best form, savory. For a great savory pumpkin recipe, please visit Albion Cooks for a wonderful autumn soup.
My favorite pumpkin dishes have been Indian curried pumpkin soup, Afghani stewed pumpkin with eggplant and rice, and Thai pumpkin curry.