Having grown up in Italy, pumpkins were not part of my childhood.
Sure, there were zucche here and there, in the market street, often green skinned and oblong, quite large, cut in half to expose the lovely orange flesh. But they were meant to be used in soups and pasta dishes, or filling for ravioli and tortelloni.
I had never heard of anything sweet being made with them (they are a vegetable after all).
So, many years later, when I already lived in the US, and was presented with a Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving, I was slightly taken aback: what the heck?
And yes, I admit it, I found the flavor very odd, not pleasant at all, actually undesirable. Weird, ecco. One time, when I was living in an apartment in Yonkers, my upstairs neighbor thoughtfully offered me a loaf of Pumpkin Bread. After enthusiastically thanking her, I took a peek, cut off a (very) small chunk and tentatively tasted it. I nearly gagged. As soon as darkness approached I wrapped it in several paper bags and tucked it into the communal trash bin. I hope the kind neighbor never saw it!
Well, how time changes everything. Now I’m a huge fan of all things pumpkin, my favorite being my super-creamy, satiny Pumpkin Pie. Breads and cakes and cookies and muffins, flans and even the lovely Pumpkin Soup from Trader Joe’s.
(Though there is one thing I can’t stand, – and I know I’m going
to make enemies here -that awful, artificially-flavored concoction known as the
Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, thick and sickeningly sweet, which makes you feel like you had a full meal but are still unsatisfied. Yuk.)
Things have also changed in Italy, where now many sweets include pumpkin or some kind of squash. As a matter of fact, the traditional American Pumpkin Pie is one of my most requested recipes from my Italian readers, who are in love with our Thanksgiving celebration (the power of American movies and television).
Hence, here is a dark and spicy Pumpkin Cake, made with oil, ideal for an October breakfast, a warm welcome to the deepening autumn.