For some weeks, my wife and I have been trying to find a pumpkin to carve for Halloween. This past weekend, our activities paid off. Sort of.
Initially, we had been quite casual about our pumpkin hunt. We would check in the vegetable area of supermarkets, and the vegetable stalls at outdoor markets — nothing. At first we weren’t too concerned, because Halloween was still a few weeks away. But by this past weekend, we were getting anxious.
We knew there was a nice pumpkin patch near the Daglan rugby/soccer field, but we couldn’t figure out who owned it, and who might sell us a pumpkin or two. We had visited the building next to it, but no one was home. And by Saturday afternoon, all the big pumpkins were gone.
Then I remembered that we had seen a large garden with full-grown pumpkins near St. Laurent la Vallée, so on Saturday, we drove there. But when we arrived the garden was completely barren. Still slightly confident, we drove over kilometres of country roads, searching in vain for a garden with pumpkins. Nothing.
At last we arrived in neighbouring Cénac, stopped for a coffee, and phoned our friend Samantha to see if she had any bright ideas. She suggested that we try the fruit and vegetable shop near the main parking lot in Cénac, and so we did. Still no luck — except that the nice young woman behind the counter said that she knew where there were pumpkins, and she would phone for us.
She did phone, but couldn’t reach anyone. So she gave us directions on how to find the farm that grows these things, and off we went. After leaving Cénac and climbing a long way up a hill, we came to the spot — where there were not only no pumpkins, but no produce of any sort.
However, a friendly young woman eventually emerged from the shadows, and my wife Jan explained that, for Halloween, we wanted one large pumpkin (citrouille in French) and two small ones. We were planning to give the small ones to the children of English friends who are now staying at their holiday home near us.
The young woman said she’d be happy to help, but she would have to go down into the field (somewhere) to pick the pumpkins, and it would be better if we could return the following afternoon. Well, fine.
So on Sunday afternoon, we drove back to the farm — just as the young woman was about to drive away in her car. I shouted at her that we had ordered three pumpkins, and she said they were waiting for us in a wooden box that was perched on a stone wall. An older woman was left to look after us, but she didn’t know the price of the three pumpkins — so she shouted after the young woman, now busily driving away. “Vingt euros!” came the reply. Twenty euros.
So there we were, faced with a wooden box holding three potirons — not classic pumpkins. (A potiron is a winter squash that’s popular in this area.) The two small ones were at least orange, but the large one was a Potiron Bleu de Hongrie, or Hungarian Blue Squash. At this point, we decided that enough was enough, and we would take the squash, even though they weren’t really what we had asked for.
So here are the two small ones, sitting on the pavement of the courtyard just outside our home:
To give you a sense of scale, here is another photo of the two little “pumpkins,” being investigated by the cat of our next door neighbour:
Now, what about our Hungarian Blue? Well, here it is, sitting on the kitchen counter, perched next to a red cabbage, to give you a sense of size:
Today, after lunch, I decided to tackle the Blue Hungarian. Since I am somewhat of a specialist in cat-faced jack o’lanterns, I drew a “scary” cat on our blue-grey squash, and had a go at it with a variety of knives. See what you think:
So, “real” pumpkin or not, we are now set for Halloween tomorrow. Jack will be out on the front steps, with a candle burning inside. Jan and I will be ready with lots of chocolate treats for kids, and our own costumes. With any luck, we might get as many as five kids trick-or-treating.