The Good Old Pumpkin

Remember the pumpkin coach built by Cinderella’s fairy godmother so that she could attend the ball? And, which had turned back into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight, to be trampled by the palace horses?

Like many little girls of my time, Cinderella used to be my favourite childhood fairy tale. It was her glass shoes and the pumpkin coach that fascinated me. There was another favourite too, Rapunzel. Her long tresses allured me, and I would dream of having the same long golden plait. That was probably because my thick glossy jet-black hair was trimmed to the shortest, so that it could be easily managed. I can clearly remember the glossy feel of the pages of those childhood books. I have no idea if children today are still fascinated by these fairy tales. I only hear of Doraemon, Shizuka, Nobita, Elsa, Barbie, and so on. These characters never existed during our childhood.

My childhood memories of Cindrella’s carriage was rekindled by a pumpkin – a very special pumpkin. Not the orange-red Cinderella pumpkin but the green one with scattered spots of yellow.

We have a small little kitchen garden in our Shillong home. It’s an extended part of my father’s garden that he tended with a lot of love and care. The kitchen garden boasts of a variety of produce. Some of these are chayotes, beans, colocasia, chilies, lemons, tree tomatoes, corns, and the good old pumpkin. The pumpkin vine happened to be his eternal favourite and he nurtured a special attachment to it. His bias towards the vine and the pumpkins would sometimes reach unreasonable heights. The full-grown pumpkins would never be allowed an immediate entry into the kitchen. They would be safely kept, carefully guarded and shielded on the terrace. They would often be smeared with a dash of lime. Probably to ward off insect attacks – I really don’t know. Never asked him. The pumpkins would grace the kitchen only on special occasions.

When I came home in August, I did notice the yellow flowers of the pumpkin vine. It’s quite a common site during this time of the year and I didn’t pay much attention. One day I spotted a tiny little round ball popping out of a flower. It was way too adorable and impossible to ignore. There on, I would take stock of it every single day and watching it grow was sheer delight. In the meanwhile, several other tiny green rounded baby pumpkins made their appearance, but my eyes remain glued to the first one. I was partial in my love and adulation. And, I think I now understand my father’s over-protective attitude towards his pumpkins.

It does surprise me significantly to think that the pumpkin vine was always there, but I never ever bothered to take a close look. The garden was my father’s arena. I loved the greenery all around and admired his passion but never really participated alongside him. My father is surely smiling watching his pumpkins grow.

Now for some Google-gyan, attributed to my new-found pumpkin interest. Pumpkins or Cucurbita, as they are known scientifically, have originated from Central America over 7,500 years ago. Archaeologists have discovered the oldest domesticated pumpkin seeds in the Oaxaca Highlands of Mexico. Green pumpkins come in two varieties – Japanese pumpkin or ‘Kabocha’ and Italian pumpkin or ‘Marina di Chioggia’. It’s the sweet-tasting Asian pumpkin that grows in our kitchen garden. The Italian counterpart is small, dark green with a very warty outer rind. There’s also a pear-shaped variety, known as Lakota squash. Pumpkins possess abundant vitamins and nutrients besides being anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antifungal. Pumpkins are high in protein and fiber. They are an excellent source of iron and vitamin A.

Pumpkins are extraordinarily versatile when it comes to cooking. They can be cooked in a variety of ways on their own and also in combination with other vegetables. Pumpkins make great combination with fresh-water fish and dry fish too. Pumpkins make for great desserts too!

Here are two simple pumpkin recipes from my mother’s kitchen.

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

12 thoughts on “The Good Old Pumpkin”

  1. That’s a beautiful pumpkin 💖 and you have reason to be proud having taken care of it so well, including providing that improvised support…

    I have several pumpkin vines but none of the pumpkins survive the marauding monkey troops in my layout 😠.

    There is another variety I see in Bangalore, called the “disco pumpkin”, a smaller, very Orange variety 🙂 does Google provide any history of that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Observing nature and her functioning is really a fulfilling experience. I never knew those smaller pumpkins are called “Disco Pumpkin”, funny name :D…..
      I am right, they are called “Jack-Be-Little”, need to research to know the history.
      Thank you, Deb. Your comments make me joyful 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome 🙂 and I just noticed, there is a baby disco a.k.a Jack-be-little growing on my terrace, hope this post is a good omen for that one 🙂

        Like

  2. A nice little story around the emotions that a father’s favourite garden evokes in his daughter. I can at least connect with the fascination for Cinderella and Rapunzel too, as people of a certain age would be able to. Of course, I had my favourites too, like Tom Thumb and others (would have to leaf through the books to rekindle memories).

    Yes, it’s a lot about Japanese fictional characters now—children seen to like them more—plus modern American ones. But the appeal of the European fairy tales remain I think, though to a lesser extent, at least here. Maybe it’s about marketing as well—the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon shows et al. Seen in another way, it’s a transformation of liking from old world characters to new world, modern characters.

    About pumpkins, it’s one of my favourite vegetables too, if cooked in certain ways. I like the flowers as well, which make for another traditional Bengali dish—kumro phool bhaja. 😋😊

    The green-with-white-spots baby pumpkins you wrote about are called jali kumro or chanchi kumro in Bengali.

    By the way, dad just got one from the market today. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all a very hearty welcome to my blog. We have missed you 🙂
      Kumro phool bhaja I love too and had the opportunity to have them this time round. Speaking of the phool, I miss my grandmother (thakuma). It used to be her favourite.
      I am not quite certain that I know about jali kumro, though I have seen the oval shaped kumro.
      As for the childhood books, I actually opened a trunk in the house where my mother has kept all the childhood books to feel the glossy pages all over again. It was nothing but a treasure trove. Comics, books, and greeting cards. Back then relatives and cousins would send cards through post during new year and christmas. My mother has kept them safely. Also, I have a huge collection of stamps, which I had forgotten totally.
      And, enjoy the kumro that kaku has got 🙂

      Like

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