by Ian Froeb
To celebrate Thanksgiving, Gut Check has been running a series of posts celebrating our pumpkin-flavored treats. To which I say: Bah, humbug.
The primary function of a pumpkin should be decoration, either as a Halloween jack-o'-lantern or as the centerpiece of a gourd-centric autumnal table setting.
As far as a foodstuff, pumpkin has exactly three (3) acceptable uses:
1. Pepitas or a similar roasted or fried preparation of the seeds. Pepitas are excellent precisely because they are not full-fledged pumpkins, aspiring pumpkins or even fetal pumpkins, but sort of embryonic pumpkins, crunchy little morsels of possible pumpkin-ness that it's our duty to destroy by means of snacking before they can reach their full pumpkin potential.
2. Pumpkin pie is overrated both as a dessert in general and as a member of the pie subgroup of desserts. Indeed, the spiced, sugared flavor of pumpkin pie is largely to blame for the current inundation of treacly, insipid pumpkin-flavored treats. However, I feel unusually nostalgic and warm-hearted around this time every year, so pumpkin pie gets a pass.
3. Canned, unadulterated pumpkin helps soothe your dog's tummy when she has the runs.
Everything else -- pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin lattes (especially pumpkin lattes) -- tastes like a sachet of potpourri dosed with high fructose corn syrup. The flavor is as subtle as pumpkin-shaped mellowcreme candies.
You know why you love your favorite pumpkin treat? Because it tastes NOTHING like actual pumpkin, the blandest member of the squash family, a thing that, like John Boehner, is remarkable only because it is orange. If your pumpkin treat did taste like pumpkin, you would choke down the first bite or sip and then throw the thing in the trash.