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The Big Pumpkin (Dump)

I grew this once in another life. It was a frightening experience.

If it wasn’t for Halloween, this grotesque and useless gourd would be extinct. And good riddance.

Let’s. Review.

Somewhere dotted about the fruited plains of America something like lebenty-leben gazillion acres of pumpkins are planted every damn year. Then care and water and chemicals are slathered on these fibrous tumors causing them to grow big. Some very big. Some so big that they can be hoisted into the air, dropped onto a car and obliterate said automobile.

Many are midget pumpkins. This year I’m seeing teeny-weeny baby pumpkins ripe for pumpkin abuse. But most are middle to large hunks o’ pumpkin by the time they are “ready for the harvest.”

Sounds so pastoral, doesn’t it? “Ready for the harvest.” Except that when you actually “harvest” a plant the assumption is that, somewhere, somehow, some people are actually going to eat the thing.

This is the fate of only a smidgen of the pumpkins harvested. And even among those that actually eat of the pumpkin almost all are lying through their seeds when they say they like it. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, even (shudder) roast pumpkin — all foul concoctions fit only for the martyr mothers among us.

I know that many will claim to adore pumpkin pie, but that too is mindless. Give me any thick paste and let me pour tons of cream, evaporated milk, pounds of sugar, scoops of cinnamon and nutmeg into a butter-laced and crisp pie crust and you’ll love it even if the base plant was black mold from the basement.

No, the pumpkin is not an acceptable food. But do we plow it under and eradicate it from our list of things we use farmland for? No. Because anything worth doing in America is worth overdoing, we expand the acres devoted to this parasite.

We do it to empower the following process.

First big pumpkins are grown in industrial pumpkin patches. Then large machines and hordes of laborers go through these fields and pick them all up. Then they are loaded onto big trucks and taken to some pumpkin clearing house where the hefty gourds are unloaded and sorted.

Then they are loaded onto other large trucks and swept away to various centralized food distribution warehouses across the nation. Unloaded again these obese gourds are promptly loaded onto other trucks and delivered to grocery stores large and small where the weakened staff unloads and stacks them in piles. Oceans of diesel are burned at every step in this process.

Then in you come and lift a hefty pumpkin up and load in your car. You drive home and unload it. Then the whole family gets together to eviscerate it, slimy guts and seeds and all. Then you all take sharp-edged implements and slash and hack at the defenseless gourd, piercing it clean through and cutting the top of its head off in some gigantic clown lobotomy.

Then you put something on fire inside it and stick it out in front of your house. More than one family every year puts this vegetable with a fire inside it on a pile of dry leaves in front of their home thus losing their house trailer.

This is done tens or hundreds of millions of times for one single night.

After this less than peak experience, sooner or later every hacked-up pumpkin in America is thrown away.

I don’t want to even begin to think about the carbon footprint on this one. Neither do you. It’s too scary. Even for Halloween.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Suburbanbanshee September 22, 2018, 9:55 AM

    I like punkins. And roasted punkin seeds.

    Pumpkin makes a good solid filler, but it doesn’t have any flavor of its own. Even the European green pumpkins are tasteless. There was a French chef who said that, if you’re going to cook pumpkin, it’s like cooking tofu — you have to provide all the flavor and texture.

    Except tofu has protein, while pumpkin is a low-calorie veggie. So pumpkin soup has to be pumpkin + chicken broth and other strong flavors; and pumpkin pie follows the same principle.’

    That said, there’s nothing wrong with a cheap filler that includes a little fiber and some vitamins. When you’re headed into winter, the Vitamin A from yellow veggies is good stuff.

  • John Fleming September 22, 2018, 10:15 AM

    As Ralphie said, Halloween is the starting event in the kids’ yearly holiday cycle. My mom, being a child of the Depression, on Nov 1 would carve up the pumpkin and bake it, then put the mash into the freezer. We would have pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Smells are our strongest memories, and the smell of cooked pumpkin is for me a very happy memory

    I attempted to keep the family tradition alive, and did it myself for a number of years. I did not make heavy on the sugar concoctions. Mine was heavy on the pumpkin, with molasses and all the usual spices, just enough egg and milk to bind it all together. While I happily ate it all, the wife and kids were meh, they would only accept a polite serving, and never come back for seconds.

    So I’m a solo pumpkin eater, and it’s hard eating the whole thing. Very fattening, which is the point of it. Our bodies know it, with the golden fall light it’s time to get fat and be ready for the long cold cruel winter ahead.

    I’ve tried other brands of squashes, and experimented in the kitchen on various concoctions trying to entice and pull my wife’s tastes in the direction of liking pumpkins. No joy, she’s not going there, not now, not ever.

    My wife will have a butternut squash soup on occasion, but only when dining out at fancy Italian restaurants. Figures. Husband’s cooking is rejected, but husband’s money is golden.

  • ghostsniper September 22, 2018, 10:21 AM

    My wife will make her legendary punkin pie this year and that’ll be it. No more til next fall, which should be any day now. j/k Not really. The seasons come quicker these days, and only last a couple days it seems. Only 94 days til Christmas. And you still have to fit Halloween and Thanksgiving in there some how.

    The harvest season started about 6 weeks ago and is winding down now. Almost everything’s been cut down and distributed and now the fields will lie dormant til spring, which is about 2 months from now. We’ve been eating our neighbor Jim Bonds celebrity tomatoes til the cows come home and still have about 8 of them sitting on the counter. $4 for a small basket with 6 nice ones in it. But he’s out of tomatoes now and the tables are stacked high with butternut squash. In a week or 2 his yard will be covered with punkins. I’ll prolly get one just because.

    But the BIG seasonal/holiday deal won’t happen until 01 Oct. That’s when I break Karl and Wendle out of their dark dungeon in the corner of the garage. Large plywood cutouts I made 12 years ago of a doofy ghost (Wendle) and a sadistic jackolantern with an evil grin named Karl, and they will be installed at the end of the driveway. They will sit out there warding off ne’re do wells and other riff raff until the 1st of Nov when I reel them back into their lair for another year.

    Yeah, you read that right. 94 days. Better get hustlin….tomorrow was yesterday.

  • Callmelennie September 22, 2018, 10:54 AM

    You’re in rare form today, GL

  • Kristi Herman September 22, 2018, 11:00 AM

    I’m not sure I want to know your take on Christmas trees. Alert the authorities, indeed 😏

  • Harry September 22, 2018, 12:59 PM

    Carving pumpkins; it was fun when the kids were kids. Now that they’re grown and gone, my wife and I rarely bother anymore. I do miss the pumpkin seeds.

  • PatAZ September 22, 2018, 1:08 PM

    Pumpkin bread with lots of nuts. Yum!

  • Missy September 22, 2018, 1:27 PM

    My beau is a farmer, and he refuses to grow pumpkins. He also refuses to enter Starbucks because he heard they serve “coffee with pumpkin in it.” There is something nice to be said for purists.

  • John The River September 22, 2018, 3:22 PM

    In Mediterranean cooking Pumpkin is sliced into one inch wedges, seasoned with salt and spices (I use cinnamon and white pepper), and sautes in a pan with olive oil.

    Pumpkin seeds are great roasted and salted. Fiber!

    Your point about pumpkin pie reminds me of a guy who hated traditional New England boiled lobster, but found that the only thing about it he enjoyed was the butter. So he’d bring a foam applicator to the table and dip it into the heated butter and suck on it (awkward turn of phrase that).

    The smell of a lit candle inside a fresh craved pumpkin reminds me of my late wife, she loved craving and lighting the pumpkin. After her stroke she’d draw the design on the pumpkin and I’d crave it.
    Good memories.

  • Hotmess September 22, 2018, 5:43 PM

    They will ask what’s for dinner and you will say pumpkin soup. “Ewww!” they will say. Then they will devour every last drop. Repeat the next year and the next and so on.
    Slice one large onion very thin and saute in 1/4 C. of butter until limp. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. curry powder and saute 1-2 minutes more. Dump into food processor with 2 C. canned pumpkin and 1-1/2 tsp. of salt. Process until mixed, then slowly pour in 2 C. heavy cream. This is not diet food. Transfer puree to large sauce pan and heat slowly with 2-1/2 C. chicken stock. Garnish with sour cream, cinnamon and chopped parsley.
    If you double the batch for Thanksgiving, make sure not to overload the processor or you will be cleaning puree off the walls and ceiling.

  • Steve in Greensboro September 22, 2018, 6:43 PM

    Pumpkin pie done properly is heavenly, but to each his own. (Like any custard, it should not be overcooked, but usually is.)

    But pumpkin should be admired for another reason, almost as important – as a dog digestive aid. My 80 pound German Shepherd bitch is a beloved member of my family. Because she is so sweet, she often gets fed treats by her family members and those treats sometimes don’t agree with her. An 80 pound dog with diarrhea is a real problem. A short fast followed by some canned pumpkin is the solution.

  • Nori September 22, 2018, 8:36 PM

    Right there,Steve’s got it, pumpkin’s saving grace. Dog digestive aid. Any time my dogs have had a spat of tummy upset, licks of canned pumpkin from my hand never fails to sooth. Runny poop in a longhair 130lb canine is uncomfortable for the dog, and unpleasant for the cleanup crew. (Me).

    Being from the south,pumpkin pie was not on the fall menus-it was sweet potato pie that filled the house with that warm spice fragrance. Firmer custard than pumpkin,neater slice. Served with hot coffee and a bit of whip cream.

  • Scott halloween September 23, 2018, 7:32 AM

    Did you know all the canned “pumpkin”is actually butternut squash? True. Real punk’n is too stringy and boring, the public hated it, but wouldn’t buy butternut squash in a can, so they added spices and swapped the labels and *TA DA* ! A new tradition is born.

  • Hangtown Bob September 23, 2018, 9:24 AM

    Hey Gerard,

    We have a pumpkin farm (patch?) down here just outside of Old Hangtown where they have a large fully operative trebuchet (for those ignorant of this magnificent weapon, it is is a type of catapult, a common type of siege engine which uses a swinging arm to throw a projectile. The traction trebuchet, also referred to as a mangonel at times, first appeared in Ancient China during the 4th century BC as a siege weapon.)

    For a price, one can buy a large pumpkin, the larger the better, and launch it into the sky, hoping to hit a bull’s-eye target at the other end of the field. Some of the “splats” are truly memorable and a much more honorable way for this noble gourd to end its life.

  • Vera September 23, 2018, 12:47 PM

    Akshually, canned pumpkin and canned pumpkin pie filling are made from pumpkins, Dickinson pumpkins, to be exact.
    I know, Snopes. But the thing to remember is that just as all Cognac is brandy but not all brandies are Cognac, all pumpkins are squash but not all squash(es?) is pumpkin.

  • Vera September 23, 2018, 1:02 PM

    P.S. I think it’s time for McSweeney’s “It’s Decorative Gourd Season…” again.

  • pbird September 24, 2018, 9:30 AM

    Yes, they are useless as food, but we are a terribly wealthy country that can afford to raise silly stuff. (cows do like pumpkin though) I think the net effect is good. Anything that keeps more cropland in use is a good thing. If needed, they can start to raise good useful stuff.

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