Monday, October 8, 2012

You Gotta Pick a Pumpkin or Two

Hintersdorf, suburb of Vienna, Austria.  It's about as close to pumpkin heaven there is.  Pumpkins, gourds and squash in a spectrum of colors, shapes, sizes and textures are presented as sculpture, decoration and even food at Franzlbauer's grand and amazing pumpkin emporium.


  1. An amazing display of pumpkins. Who would have thought that the pumpkin, originating in Central America 7000 BC, would have made it to Austria is such a big way? Carving them into Jack O' Lanterns is an Irish-American tradition.

    Happy Columbus Day. Here in South Dakota it is Native American Day. It was Indians that first introduced Colonists to pumpkins. At first the Colonists baked them in embers after filling them with milk, honey, and spices. They probably learned this from the Indians as well. We just make them into pumpkin pie, one of my favorites.

    "The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born in Massachusetts in 1807, wrote "The Pumpkin" (1850)

    “ 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!"

    1. Jeff, you are definitely a walking encyclopedia. Thanks for your report on the history, folklore, recipe and literature around this versatile and useful plant. Here in Austria, cream of pumpkin soup is very popular this time of year, often with a drizzle of black pumpkinseed oil floating on top. I'd like to try baking one with milk, honey and spices (as we have no access to an open flame at the moment) as you suggested. Sounds delicious!

      And happy Columbus Day to you! Every time I think of Columbus, Mark Twain's hilarious account of visiting Genoa (from Innocents Abroad) comes to mind. If you haven't read it, don't waste another minute.

    2. Must admit to having Googled the Whittier poem and the Colonial recipe. The pumpkin soup sounds excellent. The Halloween traditions that we take so for granted are not all that old, dating back only to the 19th Century. I've read bits and pieces of Innocents Abroad, but haven't sat down with it in years. Will take your advice.

      Whittier's reference to "wood-grapes" must be American concord grapes. This fall I made a concord grape pie and grape jam. The pie turned out well, especially if one likes fruit pies, and the jam has no similarity to Welches Grape Jelly.

    3. The thought of a grape jelly more flavorful than Welches' has my mouth watering. A couple of years ago I bought some big, purple grapes at an open air market in Germany. Never before or since have we had grapes that flavorful. Would love to find them again.

      Am now a bit concerned about recommending Innocents Abroad. What I found to be hilarious 30 years ago might be yawnsville or silly today... But I guess it won't hurt you. Enjoy!