November 22, 2011
(First published in “Seven Days.” We were asked to write about a Thanksgiving dish.)
They asked me to write about the pumpkin pie and I said I would because I know all about pumpkins. Pumpkins and I go way back. You can’t trust them.
When I was nine years old, I won first prize at the Champlain Valley Fair for a pumpkin I grew in my back yard. It was very beautiful, round and perfect. Everybody said I had a green thumb. But nobody told me about crop rotation, so when I tried it again the next year I got only a pathetic stunted thing that looked more like a gourd with warts. I felt betrayed, yes, violated. I turned my back on pumpkins for many years.
Then one day when I was getting a divorce — this was some time ago — I was depressed and decided I’d make a pumpkin pie from scratch. God knows what I was thinking. I really needed some TLC. What I hadn’t counted on was the heartlessness of the pumpkin. Pumpkins are very selfish fruits — they don’t forget. It took me six hours to steam it, peel it, mash it and so forth, and by the time I was done I had drunk three bottles of wine and couldn’t taste the pie at all. I called the woman I was still married to and yelled at her over the phone. She said I was a jerk and hung up.
The moral of this story: It’s just as good out of a can. Pumpkins will let you down.