Food in the Grand Tour and (failed) Pumpkin Ravioli in London

I am reading about food and drink in the Grand Tour (a tour of Europe around 1600-1800), trying to finish my research for my essay. I am feeling restless and worried about the future. Sometimes I think that this is a dream and I will wake up in my old apartment, put on my business jacket and head off to work to deal with loan and deposit figures in Southeastern Europe…

And what do we do at times of worry dear reader? The only thing that puts my mind at peace: Cook! With the pumpkin that has been sitting in my kitchen since Halloween and with a need to create something more complicated than usual I put on my apron. Pumpkin, Sage and Cream Cheese Ravioli with Hazelnut Brown Butter sauce.

I place my pumpkin in the oven, cut in half, flesh side down and roast at 200 C for approximately 45 min or until the flesh is very soft. If you want you can rub a bit of olive oil in the flesh so that it doesn’t stick to the tray. You want it to be easy to mash afterwards and the whole house to smell like sweet fall.

A few hours later the pumpkin is cooked and I have scooped its flesh out. I have fried an onion and mixed it with the pumpkin puree. I’ve added salt, pepper and sage and have stirred to combine all ingredients and flavors. But something feels off. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the smell, I am not sure. I taste the pumpkin mixture and yes, dear reader, something is off. It does not taste like sweet fall. In fact, it does not taste like anything!

Not sure who to blame (myself? The pumpkin? The industrialization of agriculture for bringing this tasteless pumpkin to me?), I try to fix it by adding salt, pepper, herbs, spices and butter. But, in such situations experience has shown that no matter how much you try, the best that can be done can only elevate the food from failed to ok. It will never taste amazingly. Accepting my defeat, I remembered Isabel Allende saying that when you cook, your emotions will transfer to your food. Maybe that’s what happened here :)

As I open yet another book I feel a bit more optimistic: When trying something new, be it Pumpkin Ravioli or a new career, things may go wrong. But even if they do, what matters is not to give up: I prepared broccoli au gratin with creme fresh , eggs, cheese, thyme and chili! It’s not Pumpkin, Sage and Cream Cheese Ravioli with Hazelnut Brown Butter sauce but at least it does taste like sweet fall! And that’s all that matters right?

Comments

  1. or sweet fail?
    At least you had the sense to quit while there was still a chance to cook something else...

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  2. Try a smaller pumpkin - nothing bigger than 15-20cm max diameter (more flavour!!) , and try cutting into quarters, and bake face up, with a drizzle of just water in the pan for steam! Flavour will be all pumpkin! THEN add all your wonderfulness for the ravioli, and I'll bet it'd be amazing!

    Kelly. xo

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  3. Definitely sweet fail Stel!
    And will definitely try again-following Kelly's advice :)))

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