(click on pictures to enlarge)
Southern Ontario is colourful at the moment with the leaves on the trees changing colour and fields full of pumpkins.
We went to the Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show which is usually held over Thanksgiving weekend in the town of Simcoe. It is one of the oldest fairs in Ontario having been started in 1840 and is a great place to see all the different varieties of vegetables, fruit and livestock. A colourful array of squash were on display and this year, the largest pumpkin weighed in at 1,442 lbs! Not as large as the last time we were at the fair but impressive all the same.
In Italy, it seems to me that there are fewer varieties of squash and pumpkin and they are quite expensive. Pumpkin is even sold in the market by wedges.
Now, I find it surprising to see how many pumpkins here are used for decoration and carved for Halloween when they could be used for food. They are rich in vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, and potassium. Not only the flesh, but also the seeds and flowers are edible and they can be kept for a few months.
Speaking of flowers, stuffed pumpkin or zucchini flowers are a popular appetizer in Italy during the spring and summer. The flowers are also used in pasta sauces and as a pizza topping. I often wondered why the flowers would be pulled off before any fruit were produced and sold so cheaply. I thought that this would prevent a crop from being produced which could be sold at a better price.
I just discovered that there are male and female flowers on the same plant and the female flowers have to be pollinated in order to produce fruit. The male flowers often appear before the female flowers and have a straight stem. Female flowers on the other hand, have a tiny ovary resembling a miniature zucchini or pumpkin at the base. Now that you know, you can pull off some of the male flowers from zucchini/pumpkin/squash plants and try them stuffed with anchovy and mozarella, or in other ways, and still have a good yield of the fruit.