I was halfway through Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle before I had to return it. One of her points is that we urban folks can be pretty ignorant about food and where it comes from. I’m fortunate to live in a part of the country where a lot of people are skilled at preparing indigenous plants and animals.
For example, Susan called me this evening and said, “We’re carving pumpkins. Would you like to come over?”
“Can I bring my pumpkin?” I asked. She knows I want to make a pumpkin ice cream pie for work this Friday.
“Oh, sure,” she said, sounding a little perplexed. “Do you want to cook it here?”
“Cook it? Do I have to?”
“But I just want the goop for the pie.”
“You don’t use the goop. You cook the pumpkin like a squash.”
“Get out of here.” I had no idea.
So anyway, I disemboweled the pumpkin and cut the hard part into chunks, which Susan put into her pressure cooker (she has every kitchen tool imaginable–she’s the Norm Abrams of the kitchen). While it was cooking I separated the seeds from the pulp (what I was calling the goop) and washed them off. That was something easy I could handle. After pressure cooking it, we cut off the skin and put the pumpkin into this hand cranked sieve that purees it into a bowl.
I haven’t cut up a pumpkin since I was a kid. I asked Susan why the inside of my pumpkin looked different from hers. Apparently, there are carving pumpkins (hers) and cooking pumpkins (mine). I asked her if there were special pumpkins for making pumpkin seeds and she gave me this look.
I sat at her counter looking at my processed pumpkin: a quart and half of orange puree and maybe a cup of seeds. I am roasting the seeds as I type. I felt bad for some reason. Because pumpkins remind me of heads (because after all that’s what we make of them when we’re not cooking them). Imagine pumpkins did this to us? Scooped out our brains and pulverized our pulpy bodies and roasted the bones. It’s so barbaric, especially to do it all in front of another pumpkin.
It was all very educational.