Saturday, September 27, 2014

On an Orange Squash

Note: Here's a little piece I wrote for my creative writing class recently, inspired by 19th-century essayists like Lamb, Chesterton, and Beerbohm. It's meant to be sarcastic, even if it doesn't manage to be funny, so please don't take it too seriously.

Over the last few years, the fall season has brought with it a new crisis: the Pumpkin Wars. Everyone must take a side; either you love pumpkin, or you don’t. And if you’re on the “don’t” side, then you must not only pass on seconds of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving; you actually must take a strong stance against all things pumpkin.

Of course, this isn’t about pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie, we all agree, is a harmless, unimpressive Thanksgiving staple. Even the pumpkin lovers aren’t necessarily that interested in pumpkin pie. It’s the other pumpkin things that spark debate. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin muffins. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkin butter. Pumpkin chocolate, hot cocoa, air freshener, candles, coffee.

I must admit I’m on the pro-pumpkin side of the argument. I’m the nut who waits for pumpkin all year long and then attempts to drown in it for the three months it’s available. I roast and puree my own pumpkins and keep bags of puree in my freezer. I try to sneak pumpkin into every possible dessert and, hey, even breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

(A couple weeks ago, I read on a food blog that in fact it’s not the flavor of pumpkin itself that people like, it’s the spices that tend to come with it--cinnamon, cloves, allspice. I am so determined to disagree with this notion that I adamantly refuse to even consider it. If I’m wrong, I’m happy to cling to my ignorance.)

I admit I have very little understanding of the other side of the debate. I mean, I understand if people don’t like pumpkin. What I don’t understand is why they’re so offended by the very word “pumpkin” lining the grocery store shelves. Some folks seem determined to end the pumpkin craze, as though it were somehow harmful to the population.

It occurs to me now that perhaps these people don’t realize that they don’t actually have to eat pumpkin. Maybe this is a matter of education. If that’s the case, allow me to supply a public service announcement: No one is requiring you to consume pumpkin. In fact, it’s very easy to avoid. Despite what some of you seem to believe, the world isn’t literally overrun with pumpkin. If you walk into a Yankee Candle store, there will still be vanilla-scented, ocean-breeze-scented, and ambiguous “linen-scented” candles available for purchase. If you stroll into an ice cream shop, you will still be able to buy chocolate, strawberry, and pistachio ice creams (although actually, I’m not sure about pistachio--does anyone actually eat pistachio ice cream anymore?).

Now, if there were actually some kind of measurable negative effect on the general population, I would understand the vendetta against pumpkin. But adding pumpkin to things is not the same as adding, say, trans fat, which we all know is the worst possible thing a human being could consume. Pumpkin is actually good for you. In a world where people are going to eat cupcakes and cheesecake anyway, why not at least add a little wholesome squash in there?

(I should probably mention that I’m not under the illusion that all pumpkin-flavored things actually have pumpkin in them. In that case, I would think that making such things pumpkin-flavored wouldn’t make them worse for your health, even if it doesn’t make them better. But personally, I’m more a fan of things with real pumpkin in them.)

All I want is to stuff my face with pumpkin-y baked goods without being questioned, and without having to worry that soon the pumpkin-haters will successfully eradicate the world of anything pumpkin other than boring old pumpkin pie. Is that too much to ask? By all means, avoid Pinterest and cupcake shops during this time of year if the mere word “pumpkin” makes you roll your eyes, but please leave us pumpkin-lovers in peace.

1 comment:

  1. I have no particular preference for pumpkin over any other type of squash. I usually like pumpkin desserts, but I agree with that food blog that it's really just the spices (and the sugar) that I like. I love putting pumpkin in food, though! I'm always looking for ways to sneak vegetables purees into things for Ken, and suddenly when October rolls around everyone is doing it. Well, I guess it's actually pretty blatant, not sneaky, but for some reason nobody is bothered by it. It's hard to imagine that working with other vegetables. If at the end of your Thanksgiving meal, someone brought out broccoli pie for dessert, it wouldn't receive a warm reception.