Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pumpkins from my garden in Eagle Rock

Here I am the day before Thanksgiving, rain pouring down on the roof and the garden, thinking about tomorrow and the menu for dinner. Thanksgiving offers opportunity to explore an abundance of new food styles, however if I stray to far from my Family traditions and cook something new I miss the chance to feel that connection with my parents and grandparents because of our traditional Thanksgiving food. Nothing makes the connection to our Family like food can. When I cook something that my Dad would cook I feel as close to him as if he were in the room, and when I eat something out of the garden fresh picked I say to myself 'Dad would have loved this tomato" and know how proud he would have been with my tomato harvest this year. My connection to my Family is strongest with regards to food and the garden, in fact I don't see a difference between food and the garden, to me it's just food. All my life I have listened to stories about my Great Grandparents and the wonderful food they would grow and prepare. I never met them but feel as though I know them so well because of these stories, like the story of a pumpkin that my Great Grandfather grew. The seed was brought from Italy by my Great Grandmothers brother Frank and my Grandmother told me how her dad fed the pumpkins he grew to his hogs and how good the meat was because of the pumpkin. I've been told of this pumpkin by my Aunt Carmela and how unusual it was and that it didn't look like a regular pumpkin because it wasn't orange, but was good to eat. Well, I always hoped I would find the pumpkin and grow it someday, but thought it was lost for good when my Great Grandfather died. Three months ago I spoke to my Uncle Luigi and got a description of the pumpkin "not orange, sort of green and striped with an odd shape". Uhmmm?? . After some research I sent him photos of an old heirloom pumpkin that Franchi seeds offers called "Lungo di Napoli", Bingo!! I found it. Needless to say we are both very happy and look forward to growing the pumpkin next year. So me and Uncle Luigi will have this connection to his Father, my Great Grandfather, all because of a pumpkin. I guess one of the things I'm greatful for this year is pumpkin, they're fun to grow and have so many uses in the kitchen. The small gray pumpkin in the photo is an old heirloom from near Venice Italy called "Marina di Chioggia", I specifically grow this variety to use for gnocci. They make the most tender delicious gnocci with a sauce of cream infused with fresh sage........Yes. But back to Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie, one of my favorite ways to eat a pumpkin. I always bake my pies the night before to give them time to rest and allow the flavors to completely meld, so off to the kitchen for me. Happy Thanksgiving from My Cooks Garden.

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