Halloween is right around the corner and that means pumpkins, gourds, squash and melons in full bloom. When I think of pumpkins I think of my ex sister-in-law Freda. She has a big head and at family gatherings she was always quietly referred to as “Pumpkin head”. She also had a big behind so “Bubble butt” was another nickname that was covertly bandied about. Don’t even get me started on her melons.
The other thing about pumpkins is carving them. It’s always a fun tradition in October, but wait! Don’t randomly throw those squishy seeds in a newspaper and toss them in the garbage. Let them dry out, toss them with some sea salt and olive oil and roast them for a terrific snack.
If you really want to get fancy, shell them. The inner pods of pumpkin kernels are rich, slightly nutty, slightly sweet and they have long been a staple of Latino cuisine. They are called pepitas and they are a pain in the ass to shell at home so do yourself a favor and buy them pre=packaged at a Latin grocery or specialty store. Trust me, it’s worth it.
I first heard of the pepita when I attended the opening of the comic opera “Pepita Jimenez” performed by the Pecatonica Light Opera Company. It is light musical work with comic undertones written by Isaac Albeniz. He’s my third favorite Spanish classical composer right behind Enrique Granados and Manuel de Falla. I also enjoy a good tamale as well, but that’s another story for another column.
My next encounter with the pepita was during a journey to Guatemala while I was on an eco-archeological expedition searching for the ruins of the ancient Temple of Lupe Valdez. It was there in the rain forest I happened to dine on Pepian, a dish of pork, pepian verde mole and guiquil. Delish.
And today Pepita Little is that hot Jamaican bombshell who hosts the “Tasty Talent Showcase” on Unimundo TV. (Contact you cable provider if you don’t get that channel.)
The list today showcases the versatility of pepitas, the inner nut of the pumpkin seed. They are good in sauces, salads, stews, even in making candy. They are also a good snack right out of the bag.
Check them out.
Viva la Pepita everybody.