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The table has returned

All through this week while I have been hit & miss with the internet, hit & miss with opening the right cardboard box and hit & miss with the idea of pizza-dough-from-scratch, I have been composing this message to North America. Or those of you who live in North America, I should say. I’m sure the dirt of the continent itself cares very little.

The message was this: be extra thankful for pumpkin pie.

I know, I know, it’s just one of those things. You have it at Thanksgiving. You might have it at Christmas too. You might even order it at the airport Denny’s in early November because there’s no cherry pie on the menu and you’re too far from here to get pie and make your flight. But by and large, pumpkin pie is just there. And I think for the two decades I spent living in North America, I just took it for granted. Even if you thought someone else was making the pie and found out at the last minute that there was no pie on its way, you could whip up a pumpkin pie in no time, between tins of pre-packed pumpkin pie filling and premade pie crusts already in those tin pie dishes.

Pumpkin pie was just so easy that everyone started branching out. Pumpkin cake. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkin cheesecake ice cream. But here’s how I really knew someone was taking pumpkin pie for granted: I walked into a grocery store in the states on the morning of November first. There was a sign on a giant display of pumpkins: Halloween is over—free pumpkins. Really? Really, after trick or treating, the pumpkins had no intrinsic value?

You won’t really find pumpkin pie on menus over here. We don’t have Thanksgiving and our Christmas traditions involve things like mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding, which yes, all have some similarities. But no pumpkin. You’ll find pumpkin as an ingredient in main dishes like pumpkin-filled pasta and starters like pumpkin soup, but not for dessert. So when I said I was bringing pumpkin pie for dessert at a bonfire night party last year, I was met with some trepidation. It didn’t sound like a dessert, I guess. Remember, this is a land where pie is more synonymous with dinner itself: shepherd’s pie (which Scotland, Ireland and Northen England all claim to have invented!), steak & kidney pie (which as a vegetarian just sounds…not nice?) ...but after eating pumpkin pie, they were won over, and now everyone alerts me if they see pumpkins appearing in the shops so I can grab a few to roast and turn into pie. {And maybe a few cupcakes too, I’ll admit.}

We started moving in on Friday and had pretty much everything moved in (but not unpacked) by Sunday lunch time. So we headed to the Sunday afternoon farmer’s market in our new neighbourhood and found adorable pumpkins for a pound, just the right size to make two pies: one for us and one as a thank you for the boy’s parents who helped us move. And we ate ours off cardboard boxes, since we hadn’t quite unearthed the dining table yet. And that moment when you realise you are all moved in and you’ve unpacked enough stuff to be able to use your kitchen to bake pie? You realise that you should never take pumpkin pie for granted ever again.

Of course…the next day I ran into some irony. Turns out we have a little local food shop with a huge proportion of imported goods. Including tinned pumpkin. And yes, I bought some to put on the shelf just in case. So maybe this whole message I had imagined in my head wasn’t really all that important after all.


PS: No, it is not too late to sign up, so join us if you are dithering!

30 November 2007

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15 Comments for The table has returned

  1. Marie Says:

    I can honestly say, I have never eaten a pumpkin pie. How terribly British of me! LOL.

    Don’t supposed you’d care to share the recipe? Because that one looks yummy :)


  2. Bev Says:

    It was important, I have had pumpkin pie maybe twice in the last 17 years, and before that I was complacent, I didn’t know I would never get to eat it again. I absolutely love the stuff, but I’ve never seen canned pumpkin and I’m not the brave sort who would chop up a real one.
    Last Thanksgiving and American girl at work brought me in a piece of pumpkin pie, it was delicious!
    Enjoy your pie.

  3. Anthea Goodman Says:

    Oh how I miss proper Pumpkin! No I’m not American… I’m South African, and pumpkin is one of our staples that you just can’t get over here. Well you can at Halloween, but they’re not the same type of pumpkins!! And I miss those pumpkins which had wonderful names like ‘Queensland Blue’. As much as I love pumpkin, I’ve never eaten it in a pie. So perhaps you’ll have to educate me in the fine art of pumpkin pie making. I’m looking forward to it!


  4. annie bellamy Says:

    I have just signed up!!!! Have been thinking and thinking it was too late, so thanks for saying it’s not too late! Looking forward to this!

  5. Kim Says:

    You do know there are jack-o-lantern pumpkins and eating pumpkins, right? The eating pumpkins have much more flavor and a better texture. They are called sugar pumpkins. I didn’t know this until about a year ago, and I live in the states and have eaten pumpkin pie all my life. I learn a lot reading the food section of The Washington Post. And one more thing, if you like pumpkin pie, you’d probably LOVE sweet potato pie – it’s waaaayyyyyy better! ;-)

  6. Vicki Welin Says:

    Hmmm, pumpkin pie? Not tried that one (I’m English).

    About to join you in the land of cardboard as we move in the next two weeks… So part of my journal will involve photos of cardboard boxes! Can’t wait for tomorrow (and my scrap area isn’t tidy…) to make a start with my first entry :o)

    Hope things are slowly being found!

  7. Lauren Z Says:

    Oh Pumpkin pie! How I Love you! you are my go-to favorite pie of all time! (yeah- I am from the US)
    Even better than making one is going to Costco and getting a 12 inch Pumpkin pie for $5.99. You cannot even make one for that cheep when the stuff is not on sale.

    I love how it tastes like warm fall time with a hint of spice—- yum!

  8. Sarah Says:

    I’m a Brit and I discovered pumpkin pie this year after trying a recipe in a magazine. And I love it – it just tastes of autumn. Definitely going into our annual traditions now.

  9. Zoe Says:

    Yum, I love pumpkin pie.

    Glad you are all moved in Shimelle. Enjoy your new home.

    Zoe x

  10. Joanna Says:

    Oh yes!!! Pumpkin pie. Being a fellow american I’ve been strugling to perfect my pumpkin puree tecnique for about 10 years in this country because I was taught to make pumpkin pie with tinned pumpkin (lazy I know) but no one over here seems to sell it. I get soggy pumpkin pie out the oven almost every Thanksgiving night… SOB.

  11. Bees Says:

    I could fancy a pumpkin pie. However, I have made cranberry and orange cupcakes this week and I have to say they are gooooood.

    Personally, I make my mince pies with Delias quick flaky pastry – my beloved dh loves them that way and actually, so do I. I’m sure Ainsleys is lovely, but I can’t do almonds!

    I’m flickr-ing pics for the christmas journal right NOW.

  12. Stefanie Says:

    Living in South Africa, we have shepherds pie (also called cottage pie here) but no pumpkin pie, no tinned filling no ready made pie crusts either. Would love your recipe if you could.

  13. happy wheels Says:

    I’m happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us, I too always learn something new from your post.

  14. vex 3 Says:

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