Saturday, October 13, 2012

French Style Pumpkins

The dinner last weekend may have tipped you off that I love pumpkin soup. Absolutely!  I know a few people who go crazy for pumpkin lattes and all kinds of stuff like that; but I really stick to the classics like pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread, and I love the seasonality and nutrition of pumpkin. 

Last winter in Beaune, there were still tons of pumpkins to be found, for door decor~

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…and also gracing the local mini-mart entrance.  Though it looks like the dogs have been leaving messages on this pumpkin and greenery, so,…um, I would not be eating this one.  Never mind, sorry I pointed that out.  Just enjoy the look of the pumpkin & greens, please, and note that it is the heavily-ribbed Fairytale variety I used last Sunday at dinner.  I prop them up like this at my door too; it keeps the dew off of them and they seem to last longer, or is it my imagination?~

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Even in a large supermarket on the outskirts of Beaune, you find an array of pumpkins.  Well, here they are calling the whole lot “squash” or courge. and you will often see that general label used.  That’s butternut at edge left, Fairytale at center and traditional “pie type” at right, though the French don’t carve pumpkins for Jack-O-Lanterns or eat pumpkin the pie with the enthusiasm that we do in the States.  But surely the French recognize that various squash are a good deal for the nutritional value….1 euro 25 per kilo whole and 1 euro 50 per kilo for cut….not too bad for an inexpensive meal or starter.  The cut pieces are especially nice to buy as they can make a tasty starter or pasta filling. I also want to point out how beautiful these pumpkins are, even in a budget grocery store…of course, I am in France~ 

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You can see in the pic above, the cut Fairytale are very orange, and as flavorful as the butternut squash.  I also love the ones found at the Saturday Beaune market.  I would L O V E to have this green squash right now….looks sort of like a Kabocha.  Wouldn’t that big beauty make an amazing tureen? Sold at the market, by the slice~

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No point sitting in California, idly longing for French pumpkins….we have Chino Ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, the supplier of Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck and dozens of other amazing restaurants.  Last week they had the pumpkin & squash wagon out~


Side note, at the RSF market we are offering a Big Mac pumpkin in exchange for a “like” on Facebook or a free guess of the weight…..this is Judy, the wife of Emilio the Paellla King at the market…just a little haha for you; Judy wanted to take this home right then~


Back to business….I love the French rouge vif d’etampes or Cinderella pumpkin that we see in France and that I have grown at home the last few years from French non-GMO seeds.  This is now easily found in SoCal~


Chino Ranch has a few other varieties that I only see in France and at Chino’s….I loved this small one and so it came home to join the collection that swells each fall and winter on my kitchen steps~


And even at the local grocery, you can find a “pink” pumpkin to benefit Breast Cancer Research….wouldn’t this look great filled with pumpkin soup…pale pink & bright orange…..a great combination~


And I had a few friends in mind….how about vivid orange soup in a white pumpkin….with a French silver ladle….the organic alternative to a while porcelaine soupiere? Oui!


Each year as soon as pumpkins come to the markets I start to layer them in.  Trader Joe’s has a great selection this year of unusual pumpkins and squash.  Locally, I always visit Roger’s Gardens.  Our local grocery has a nice selection of traditional and Fairytale pumpkins.  I also find them at the various farmers markets I am at.  Keep your eyes open.  As long as the gourd is not damaged or compromised in any way, they will last you through the new year and for many meals.  Next up, three recipes for you~


Meanwhile, today I bought a small Kabocha squash and a small grey-green beauty from Don at Corona del Mar market.  Tomorrow back to Chino to see what they have on offer.  Too much goodness to choose from!


  1. Andrea so good to talk this evening. you always brighten my spirits!! I would love to get an assortment of 6 or 8 of the mini gourds and pumpkins to put in a piece of San Diego Pottery by my front door!

    You brought up in me so many memories tonight! Also adore the pink and the cream colored pumpkins...

    Art by Karena

  2. Hello!

    I love pumpkins! I could eat pumpkins everyday, in soup, pasta, pie, oatmeal, whatever.

    And I really enjoy all of the beautiful pumpkins that have been showing up in the stores and markets the last few years, they are beautiful and delicious.

    I am looking forward to your recipes and beautiful presentation.

    I hope that both of your parents are well and feeling a lot better.

    Have a wonderful night, Elizabeth

  3. It's so interesting that in Greece and Germany pumpkins are considered "pig food". While my family loves pumpkin I tend to agree with the Greeks and Germans. But I do love to decorate with them. :)

    1. Funny, isn't it! The French (and my Mom) feel the same way about corn. And yes, eat them or not, they look lovely around the home!

    2. The English also considered these vegetables to be pig food for many years. I know when my mum grew up one did not eat corn and had never heard of some dishes that are taken for granted in America. But times change: garlic was also not eaten traditionally. Some of the best restaurants include it now. It is the same with other countries: the world is getting smaller.

    3. Corn in certain countries, is considered food for pigs....amazing!
      Never would it be eaten as corn on the cob...Espana, is one...

  4. Rouge Vif d' Etamps pumpkins---my favorites, and I have been growing them here in northern California for many years now. Love them!

  5. Lovely post. Have you been to Lavender Hill Pumpkins here in Fallbrook? It is really worth the visit.

    1. Hooray! I love a new source for pumpkins and will go visit (and photograph) this week! Thanks for the tip!

    2. I was just there's thinning out but the display area has wonderful examples which have been given fanciful names by Libby and Mike...FUN!

  6. Andrea, you have me longing for more pumpkin, anyway you can dish it. Can't wait for your recipes. Wish I were in Rancho Santa Fe surrounded by pumpkins!

    Happy week to you

  7. I just commented on another blog that I think the pumpkins and gourds are waaaaaayyyy cooler than they were when I was growing up. You proved it here too. I"m still grappling with the Christmas balls land greenery with the pumpkin but who am I to question French style? :)

  8. We are just starting to see a wider variety of such pumpkins. I was able to get a great selection for our Oktoberfest this year at Trader Joes and the prices were fabulous. I too am of the population that loves to eat and decorate with these seasonal beauties.


  9. I am new here. It is interesting that the French think of corn as pig food. I think they may be right on that one. My husband is from Kansas and we call these big, strong midwestern boys "corn fed." He doesn't like corn and says it is not healthy and makes you fat. I think he is right. But I do love pumpkins - both to eat and to look at.

    1. Hi Michelle, thanks for stopping by. In the US I make a distinction between GMO and Non-GMO corn. I really believe all the GMO and hormones etc in our foods is bad....I do not eat much corn, but my Dad sure loves it on the cob while in season. So I cook the non-GMO only. It figures prominently in our food chain here. But in France, yes, corn does not figure in the diet at all....interesting, yes!

  10. Wow, I'm loving this pumpkin decor inspiration in here. Glad to read some pumpkin recipe ideas to pin. Got my eye on your next posts.