Thursday, November 09, 2006

Triumph of the bland

I halved a red pumpkin, scooped out the seeds and stringy stuff, anointed it with a little olive oil and some caraway and cumin and salt, and put it in a gas mark 6/200 C oven. While it was cooking, I chopped an onion and a clove of garlic, and fried them in olive oil until soft and golden.

The pumpkin was not quite soft after an hour. I turned down the oven to gas mark 4/180 C (high enough to continue the cooking process, but not so high as to scorch the flesh), and gave the pumpkin another 30 minutes.

I poured four ladlefuls of stock on to the onion and garlic, and brought the pan to a simmering point. I scooped the flesh from the pumpkin shells, added it to the pan with a little more salt, and simmered for five minutes. I blended the soup with a stick blender. I threw in some chopped parsley.

It was bland.

The next day, I reheated the soup with some more stock, garlic, spices, and a tin of cannellini beans. It was still bland.

The blandness of this pumpkin was, oddly, assertive. It was an enveloping nullity. Like a weak hi-fi component, or like a slow member of a walking party, it reduced its partners to its mediocre level. There is something depressing about that.

The same soup made with butternut squash would have been delicious.


equiano said...

We harvested 10kg and a 7kg pumpkins from our garden (of which I am obviously inordinately proud). Have worked our way through the former and will shortly begin the latter. Haven't solved the pumpkin vs butternut squash soup dilemma yet ourselves, but in the meantime recommend Rose and Gray's first RIVER CAFE COOKBOOK pumpkin soup recipe where potatoes, red onions, marjoram and chillies as additions to the pumpkin do the trick - delicious!

Ms Baroque said...

I think this is the quality my mother calls "the tyranny of the weak".

So true, too, re the pumpkin. You can never tell if it's a good one or a bad one till you open it.