We are approaching to the end of October: Halloween, the night of witches and zombies, when little children dressed up as skeletons or monsters go around knocking at neighbors doors singing ‘trick or treat’. Halloween celebrations do not belong to our traditions, they have been imported together with Marshmallows and hot dogs form USA thanks to movie, serials and cartoons. When I was a little child and I was still at primary school I used to be looking forward the end of October to have a day off to celebrate the day of All Saints on the 1st of November.
When my younger sister was at school, instead, they started celebrating Halloween with the first baby parties: you had to wear a creepy mask and bring some sweets. Purists turn up their noses at carved pumpkins, skeletons and witches asserting that those traditions don’t belong to us. Are we sure?
When granny was a child, in the period when farmers were stripping the leaves off sweet corns, more or less at the end of October, they used to reap huge yellow pumpkins left in the fields from the summer. By then, such big pumpkins weren’t good to be eaten, so some of them were used as food for animals, pigs for instance, while families with children used to empty and carve left pumpkins, drawing eyes, nose and mouth, placing a lighted candle inside.
At granny’s, they put this carved pumpkin over the well and during long dark autumnal evenings it produced a ghostly effect that scared children, in the same time parties and aware victims of the trick. Those carved pumpkins were known as morte secca.
Years before TV serials from the USA conquered crowds of teenagers and even before American soldiers passed through Italy bringing hope, chocolate and rock and roll, we used to carve pumpkins and whisper dreadful stories in front of huge fireplaces into smoky country kitchens.
To celebrate granny’s memories and stories, here a recipe made with pumpkin, not creepy nor dreadful, simply delicious!
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- 400 g pumpkin
- 2 cloves garlic
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 eggs
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Flour for dusting
- Cut the pumpkin into thin slices and dust them with some flour.
- Pour some extra virgin olive oil into a large pan and add two cloves of garlic. Heat the olive oil and when the garlic gets golden add the floured pumpkin. Stir well so that each slice can be cooked thoroughly and get golden brown. Remove the garlic and season with salt.
- Crack eggs open and beat them with salt and pepper.
- Pour the beaten eggs over the pumpkin and prick the omelette here and there to help the eggs getting firm easier. When one side is firm and golden, flip the omelette and let the other side turn golden and firm as well. Serve hot with some Tuscan bread.