Pumpkin pie: A frustrating food

Published 7:00 am Saturday, November 14, 2015

Writing a story about Thanksgiving meals is a terrible thing to do before lunch, but I am nothing if not a martyr to my industry.

That said, it has excited me for the weeks ahead. I don’t bake sweets much, but I make an exception this time of year for pumpkin pie. I have long held that America’s pie ought to be pumpkin pie as opposed to apple pie because pumpkins are a new-world species and therefore more American.

Last year, as in most years, I got pumpkins fresh from the backyard vine, but I suppose I shall have to resort to a store-bought pumpkin this time around.

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Pumpkins are terrifically easy to grow, unless you live in an apartment. To be frank, growing pumpkins was the easiest part of the process. Making pumpkin pie from scratch is an infuriatingly complicated ordeal. I say it is infuriating because after the dough is made, after it’s been in the freezer for a bit, after the crust has been pre-baked, after the pumpkin’s been gutted, steamed, scraped and blended with spices and cream and after the puree is plopped into the waiting pie crust, after it’s been baked—after a good morning’s work—the end product tastes in no discernable way different from what you’d get with a can of pumpkin puree.

Years ago, in my early 20s, I had heard it said that making a pumpkin pie from scratch was a pain in the neck and I’d heard canned pumpkin tasted no worse than fresh pumpkin. By this rumor alone my curiosity was piqued and hours of effort later, I was horrified to find it was all true.

But each year, right on schedule, I keep hoping all the labor will pay off with some new, unimaginable delight.

Maybe this year. Maybe now.