We got some very nice letters from readers who are excited to jump into Native food (luckily, we live in a state where doing that is not so hard), but we also got some fun stuff about the obelisk. Just to clear the air, when we say we “heard” it was joyous, we literally mean that’s what we heard. From no small number of people. We also said we weren’t taking a stance, just relaying information. We know this is tough, we know Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham really did some tightening down this week—we know everyone is tired and at home with itchy email trigger fingers. So this week, let’s just take things nice and calm with a fully 100% accurate history/fact lesson on the stately pumpkin.
Why? WHY?!?! YOU’RE ASKING US WHY?! Well, a couple reasons. 'Tis the season, right? Like, we’re all carving them and consuming pumpkin spice this and that—plus we know you LOVE our fully 100% accurate history/fact lessons of foods and such, so here we go!!!
Picture the scene in 1584, when a stalwart French explorer by the name of Jacques Cartier, being of sound mind and the most French of all names, found himself exploring the St. Lawrence region of North America (that’s, like, New York State and some bits of Canada and, y’know, like all up in there). He reported finding what he called “gros melons” or “pepons,” basically French nonsense for “big ol' orange gourds.” This was later translated into English as “pompions,” and then later became “pumpkins” somehow. Wow! Words!
But apparently Indigenous folks were growing pumpkins in North America even earlier than beans and corn, though if we’re being honest (and we have not done a bunch of research about this, or really any at all), we wouldn’t be surprised to learn pumpkins weren’t the specific gourd being grown. Or if they were. All we’re saying is we know there’s a rich gourd history in the United States and Mexico. In fact, archaeologists found domesticated pumpkin seeds in in the Oaxaca Highlands of Mexico that they believe date back 7,500 years. Take that, Cartier!
In 2016, some Belgian dorkus grew what is still known as the heaviest pumpkin ever grown—and it clocked in at 2,624 pounds. That’s like a car. That’s like, if this mysterious Belgian wanted to literally build a pumpkin carriage, they probably could. An American from New Hampshire once grew a pumpkin that weighed 2,528 pounds, but that’s not quite enough, is it? Still, the largest pumpkin pie ever made was baked in 2010 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio, and weighed a staggering 3,699 pounds.
Pumpkins are grown everywhere that isn’t Antarctica. Literally. Throw a dart at a world map. Unless you hit Antarctica, you’re in pumpkin growing territory. That said, they originated here, in North America. Also, in good ol' North America, we grow more than 1.5 billion pounds of those suckers every year. There will be no pumpkin spice shortage.
National Pumpkin Day is Oct. 26 (ohmygod, that’s soon!), presumably because of Halloween. It’s also a nice little bit of fortuitous timing for us, L’Fork. To that end, did you know that Santa Fe Indigenous Center is handing out free pumpkins and pumpkin carving kits to Native families on Friday Oct. 23 from 10 am-noon? Well, they are.
A cup of mashed pumpkin (cooked like potatoes, frenz) yields only, like, 49 calories. Maybe we should sub those in? Naw. Potatoes are amazing. #PhriesPhorever!
80% of the US pumpkin supply is available only in October. Good thing that’s when we have National Pumpkin Day and also Halloween. Speaking of which, we understand the jack-o-lantern thing started in Ireland circa a long-ass time ago, and with turnips rather than pumpkins. According to legend, the Irish told tales of one Stingy Jack, a sneaky dude who fooled the devil a number of times. Super-pissed, Satan wouldn’t even let Stingy Jack into hell itself, instead sentencing him to wander an endless path with nothing but a burning coal to light his way. He crammed that thing into a hollowed-out turnip (because carrying a smoldering hunk of coal presumably sucks), and that’s why your neighbors let hollowed out pumpkins rot to nothingness every year.
-Feels like we were just mentioning Food Tour New Mexico founder Nick Pena winning an award in a recent Fork (we did), but now we’re here to tell you he’s looking to hire a part-time guide. Service and local history knowledge are apparently a plus, but not mandatory. In other words, this guy will pay you to eat food and talk to people about it. It’s almost as good as L’Fork’s job, but we don’t HAVE TO talk to anyone, so...score.
-The restaurants doing to-go Thanksgiving meals are already popping up, and we can only assume this is because this year’s gonna be a doozy for all involved. But who was first, you may be asking? This year it’s Arroyo Vino, which sent out an email telling us you must order by Nov. 18 and pick up on Nov. 25. In the meal, you’ll get a shrimp cocktail, shaved Brussels sprout salad, an amazing-sounding turkey breast and more! Dessert is a pumpkin tres leches (oh. em. gee.) and it comes with cinnamon whipped cream. This feeds two people for $85. There will surely be others popping up, but this one sounds amazing, frankly. You can call 505-983-2100 to place your order now.
-Big ol' big ups to Second Street Brewery for taking home the Great American Beer Festival Gold in the Best American-Style Brown Ale category last week. What beer was it, you ask? Why, it was the aptly named Brown Ale. We love us some Second Street (food and brews both) and just wanna say some thing to everyone over there—way to go! You really did it! Your beer is great and you deserve this! You’re also nice people who contribute to this community in nice ways! Also, we got some to-go food from Rufina recently, and while we don’t know the bartender’s name, he was super friendly and helpful and totally taking COVID seriously, and that really put us at ease. USA! USA! USA!
-Speaking of pumpkins, delish.com’s Jackie Iadonisi released a video this week about how she was gonna try every single pumpkin spice thing she could find. And did. From liquers and coffees to cereals and some other weird things, many look like a complete drag. Many look amazing. The important thing is, people liking a food does not take anything away from you, so just let pumpkin spice exist. Dang.
-To offset that delish-dot-com weirdness, here’s some delish-dot-com goodness, particularly in the form of 45 (or more) recipes that are easy and full o' pumpkin stuff. OK, we forgive you, delish-dot-com.
-Surprise! Restaurant workers face the greatest COVID-19 risk. Jay kay, that’s not a surprise at all. It’s common sense (they see the most people). Of course we’re going to direct you to eater.com (we like them), but we’re also going to direct you to your humanity, friends. If you absolutely must go places, be cool.
-Take a deep breath, oenophiles, because it turns out California wildfires are gonna play a big part in how much wine is available in the not-too-distant future, and in how expensive that stuff’s gonna be. According to USA Today, roughly 11% of California wines come from Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, and while some brands could prove more scarce before long, you’ll still be able to get stuff so long as you’re not super-picky about it.
The Fork’s partner (L’Forkette) has become weirdly hate-obsessed with this couple that goes into Disney resorts and parks all the time (pandemic or not) and eats stuff and looks at stuff. How do they afford it? What about diminishing returns? Why can The Fork not stop watching these things? We know sharing it ultimately helps these people, but please feel free to gross out on them with us. And no, we don’t want emails like “Let people like things!” We know! Now apply that to our hating of this!
In the print edition of SFR, we get the lowdown on when coffee shop/eatery/plant store Opuntia plans to reopen in the Railyard. And it’s soon!
A Totally Scientific Breakdown of The Fork’s Correspondence
Number of Letters Received 19 *obelisk?
Most Helpful Tip of the Week (a barely edited letter from a reader) “You don’t get it, do you, Fork?” *We used to get “it,” but then they changed what “it” was.
Actually Helpful Tip Nada. *Word?
Pumpkin spicily yours, The Fork