Ode to the Pumpkin

zeezeeA very dear friend just recently shared a cute picture of her three-and-a-half year old in a pumpkin patch. Little ZeeZee, an absolute sweetheart, sat on the orange sphere, looking around with his roving eyes, scanning the lovely shades and colors of fall. Overcome by sweet nostalgia, I recollected how as a pre-schooler, I was enthralled by Mother Goose’s collection of nursery rhymes with one favorite being “Peter Peter, Pumpkin Eater”. I was intrigued how the pumpkin shell was used as a house!

Never did I know in my childhood innocence and naivety that this seasonal squash was something that I would keep hearing about for many more years to come. Halloween was a festival that I got acquainted with only after having landed in the United States. A new, revised introduction to the pumpkin was when I saw it being used as the jack-o-lantern. I learned it was one of the major symbols for the celebration.

The pumpkin has made its inroads in so many varied ways that I wonder which other vegetable stands as its able competitor. A couple of years ago, I enjoyed doing a math project with a batch of fifth graders. We used pumpkins of various sizes and estimated the weight and circumference of each pumpkin. The students thereafter compared to see how close or exact their estimations were to the actual measurements. I felt that the curriculum incorporated a fun strategy to teach math concepts.

Pumpkin never figured in the list of my favorite vegetables, so even though it features quite a bit in Indian cooking, I was not interested in trying it out. It was much later in my forties that I discovered on reading a fitness magazine about its health benefits. Weight loss, good vision, lower blood pressure, better sleep, and a healthier heart were some of the pluses highlighted.

“Oh boy!” was the instant exclamation I came up with when earlier this month, I happened to see on countryliving.com a compilation of 50 breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes all to be made from fresh pumpkins. Harvest pumpkin soup, pumpkin ginger waffles, pumpkin bread, pumpkin chowder, and pumpkin and cauliflower casserole were a few from the long list.

And here comes Starbucks’s signature fall drink, the ever famous Pumpkin Spice Latte or PSL, as its fans lovingly call it. Seasoned with cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg, PSL delicately blends the pumpkin pie flavor with other ingredients. Two hundred million PSLs have been sold since it was first introduced in 2003. No wonder a whole Twitter page has been dedicated to this drink. Peter Dukes, director of espresso Americas for Starbucks was the project manager when the drink was created, and he expressed his surprise regarding how the pumpkin drink has won the hearts of millions: “Nobody knew back then what it would grow to be …It’s taken on a life of its own.” As Dukes feels, more than a beverage, PSL for Starbucks is the harbinger of the season.

So much for the pumpkin today! With 8 days till Halloween, let’s enjoy the sights of the beautifully carved and lighted pumpkins adorning the yards and doorways of houses, as darling ZeeZee and many others are getting ready for their Trick or Treat adventures! To all of you: have a very happy Halloween!



  1. Nicely written. Thank you for using Zayd’s picture for the piece. He will enjoy reading it when he grows up. Looking forward to Halloween next week.

  2. Love it! My oldest son loves Pumpkin Pie and the Pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks is a favorite of mine every year. One of my fondest memories is that of taking my boys to the Farmer’s Market in Decatur to hunt for the perfect pumpkin to carve for Halloween, and one of their favorite things was to roast the pumpkin seeds with a little salt! Thanks for the memories!

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