The Harvest Months

The frost descended on the pumpkin the other night and in the early morning light, as I drove around the curving roads of rural Virginia, a dozen cows stood silhouetted and blanketed in thick white fog. Eerily outlined against the fading green of the sparse grass they munched, for some reason those cows reminded me…

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What’s A Turnip Got to Do with Halloween? Or Rutabagas, Beets, and Gourds, for That Matter?

Folklore or fakelore, the general consensus seems to be that the Irish who came to America brought their custom of carving turnips for All Hallows Eve. They must grow large turnips in the sod over there! Lacking a turnip, rutabagas, beets, or gourds would also do. Delicious legend, that's what started the practice of carving…

Ode to the Great Pumpkin [Pie]: Speak, Memory*

What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye, What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie? ~ John Greenleaf Whittier, "The Pumpkin," 1850 Some people moan and descend straight into mourning with the first frost. Not me. You'll find me in my kitchen, with clanging pans and steaming windows, eager to put…

‘Tis now the very witching time of night*: Lessons from a Rotting Pumpkin

Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling, When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling! When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin, Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!** Every October, a nearby farm family celebrates the harvest by opening up their land to the surrounding community. Hundreds of cars…

Saints, Souls, and Haints: Here Come the Pumpkins

Some pumpkin-laden advice from Janet McKenzie Hill, sounding like the Martha Stewart of a much earlier generation in her  Practical Cooking and Serving: a Complete Manual of How to Select, Prepare, and Serve Food (1902, p. 566): CENTREPIECE OF FRUIT FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER OR HARVEST FESTIVAL [Halloween] Select a golden-colored, medium-sized, well-shaped pumpkin. With a…

Diana Kennedy’s Menu for Charles, Prince of Wales

In 2002, Diana Kennedy, well-known author of Mexican cookbooks, served the following menu to the man who would be king, Charles, Prince of Wales:* Cocktails & Appetizers Tequila Apéritifs Fresh Tortillas Small Pumpkin Seeds Toasted and Ground with Roasted Habanero Chilies Guacamole Enhanced with Grapes and Pomegranate Seeds Meal Cream-of-Squash-Flower Soup Pork Loin Baked in…