Week two of our challenge, and today Rory and I are talking about food. As you would expect from something in which I am involved. As the subjects are all somewhat related to the autumn (resolutions as it’s the period of the Jewish new year as well as the last quarter for the secular one, autumn food and politics in view of the American mid-terms elections), I thought I might go beyond my usual Mother’s recipe for cervo in salmí (which features in my year’s student cookbook from the University of Edinburgh as it’s my go to for literally everything), and look at something I would really like to try: traditional Thanksgiving food. Specifically, Pumpkin Pie.
It may be the Italian in me finding the word Pumpkin Pie funny to say, but I have become rather obsessed with the dish that gave us the diabetes in a Venti cup that is Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, and its knockoffs. The thing is, I haven’t even had it.
Thanksgiving is a rather controversial holiday that is the thing that speaks the most about America to me, but I don’t have any London-based American (or Canadian for that matter) close friends to celebrate with the way I occasionally end up at seders for Jewish festivals so it’s a bit of a foreign onlooker from TV shows kind of thing. What I like about Thanksgiving’s traditional food is the abundance of Autumn flavours, as Autumn is my favourite season and I dream to visit New England in the season, and see in person the long forests of red leaves that are much more exciting than the crunched yellow ones of St James’s Park. Sweet potato is one of my favourite foods, and although I don’t know if I will ever be brave enough to try it with marshmallows I like the abundance of options other than fries with a burger at Byron’s. Still, the one thing I really want to try, maybe because it is the harder to get, is the pumpkin pie.
As you can guess since it’s me we’re talking about, the pie as we know it appears to have become a staple food of a holiday that was started in the 18th century (according to History Magazine, it appears in documents in 1705 and in a cookbook of 1796 in two recipes, one similar to the modern one). It was then popularised by the literature connected to the anti-slavery movement in the US, as many prominent abolitionists and novelists were from New England and loved their orange dessert, which featured heavily in their writings.
What attracts me so much to this dessert I have never tried (it seems to be a bit more complicated to make in the UK than in the US) is the homely character it has. Pumpkin is naturally sweet, and the pie has added spices that give it warmth, just as you need on a cold day. It’s also homely cooking that you don’t really expect to see in a fancy restaurant, unless maybe James Martin is involved. I’ve always thought I had a sweet tooth (and when it comes to Fizzy Blues I totally do), but I seem to prefer the natural sweetness of fruit to the artificial sweetness of say baked products (except the doughnuts at Asda as they are not sickeningly sweet), so pumpkin pie just seems to me to stand somewhere along the line of my mother’s apple pie, which I made for the Impact Hub Members’ Lunch and people took as savoury.
I did not have a chance to test the recipe on the Guardian’s article before writing this, but I should add to my goals for the final quarter of the year from the previous blog post to try pumpkin pie. Stay tuned for the recipes to appear once I get around to launching the food blog, then.