26 October 2006

on pumpkins

it is the season, even over here where they only recently have fully embraced the all-out celebration of high fructose corn syrup that is Halloween.

our organic, so-local-that-the-dirt-on-the-veggies-smells-the-same veg delivery included, last week, a pumpkin. what does one do with a pumpkin? carve it, naturally. but it was a bit early--it would have rotted by the time the 31st rolled around, and it was organic, and so one should really, you know, eat it.

after grappling with how to cut the thing up, I spent about an hour making it into manageable pieces, and we roasted melon-like slices of it in the oven. wow. pumpkin is awesome.

I got the idea for the roasting of strips of pumpkin from the book i just finished: The Life & Times of Michael K by JM Coetzee. the book reminded me of Camus' The Stranger, which I read in French IV class at St. Mary's Academy High School--an experience which included the cute-as-a-button recent Dartmouth graduate teacher trying to explain to us dreamy-eyed girls what existentialism was--all in French. Much fun. I believe the leader of the (debatably) free world recently read it in translation. Good for you, Mr. President.

what reminds me of Camus in Coetzee's book is the main character--much of the book (and I avoid the term narrative or story, as it's really not those things) is about K's experimentations with existing: his joy in not eating, lying prone all day, wondering what it would take to die, those sorts of things. He is, as he acknowledges finally two pages before the end of the book, a gardener. his interface with 'life' is via the life he coaxes from the desert. and that life is pumpkins. he grows them, hiding them from military patrols that seek to round up any stray people and put them to work or in camps (it's civil war in South Africa), and then when they finally ripen, he cuts them into strips and roasts them.

Such pumpkin, he thought, such pumpkin I could eat every day of my life and never want anything else. And what perfection it would be with a pinch of salt--with a pinch of salt, and a dab of butter, and a sprinkling of sugar, and a little cinnamon scattered over the top! Eating the third slice, and the fourth and fifth, till half the pumpkin was gone and his belly was full, K wallowed in the recollection of the flavours of salt, butter, sugar, cinnamon, one by one. (p. 156)

It is the most sensual moment in the entire book, by a long shot. so try eating one of your pumpkins. it could be life-altering.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pumpkins. You gotta love them year round! But remember to carve one. It is so important to remind everyone how important Halloween is! : )