Manitoba chef explains why Canadians go out of their gourd for pumpkin spice

Don't like pumpkins? A Manitoba chef says the seasonal squash is far more versatile than you think.
Don't like pumpkins? A Manitoba chef says the seasonal squash is far more versatile than you think. Getty Images

Fall is upon us, which for a lot of people means one thing: pumpkin spice season.

The ubiquitous fall flavour can be a delight or an annoyance, depending on your personal taste, but according to a chef instructor at Red River College’s culinary school, pumpkins are a lot more versatile than you might think.

Chef Gordon Bailey told 680 CJOB we shouldn’t ask “what are pumpkins good for?” but rather, “what are pumpkins not good for?”

“We consume them, we use them for aesthetics, table décor,” Bailey said.

“We use them for recreation. We carve them into jack-o’-lanterns. We grow them huge. We throw them long distances … it’s awesomely versatile.”

Read more: Manitoba pumpkin patch paying it forward, raising funds for sick toddler

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That versatility extends to the pumpkin’s use in cooking.

“I’ve used pumpkin in breakfast components, in dessert, and in savoury main course dishes,” he said.

“As far as breakfast, I make pumpkin waffles that are just killer, (and) pumpkin pancakes,” he said. “With desserts, our mind goes toward pumpkin pie, but you can try something a little bit different and do, say, a pumpkin crème brûlée.”

The reason “pumpkin spice” is so prevalent, Bailey said, is because the pumpkin is a squash that doesn’t have a ton of its own flavour, necessarily. He calls it a “neutral vessel” that we should consume during its abundant fall season.

“(With pumpkin spice), you’re enjoying pumpkin as the creamy, awesome vessel, and then the spices are all the spice blends that get added to it in the cooking or even the canning process,” he said.

“It just does taste good with so many different things.”

That being said, Bailey acknowledged that “pumpkin spice” has become less of a flavour and more of a lifestyle in recent years.

“You’re either just a person, or you’re a ‘pumpkin spice’ person — and ‘pumpkin spice people’ usually come out in the fall. They wear all kinds of cozy clothes, and they’re generally just really nice people.”

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Click to play video 'How to cook a cheese-stuffed pumpkin' How to cook a cheese-stuffed pumpkin
How to cook a cheese-stuffed pumpkin – Oct 30, 2019