Pumpkins and rum: my kind of cultural tradition

Ahh, fall. The bringer of sweaters, colourful leaves, and pumpkins. Seriously, if the pumpkin isn’t the most ubiquitously Fall thing in the world, then I don’t know what is. Suddenly, pumpkin is everywhere, and has been dubbed “the new bacon” by New York Magazine. Even countries that don’t have a picturesque Norman Rockwell autumn season are obsessed with the flavour and the idea of the pumpkin. Some say that Starbucks is responsible for this trend, with 200 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes sold in the 11 years since it’s inception.

So what’s the deal with pumpkins?

Pumpkins have been around for a long time, despite their recent spike in popularity. Originating in Central America, they are now grown on every continent except Antarctica, and have grown into a multimillion-dollar worldwide industry. Most pumpkins are grown for processing purposes and the picturesque gourds and squashes we carve, display, or bake into pies is really only a small fraction of the industry. In colonial times, settlers would fill the pumpkins with milk, spices, and honey, and bake it over hot ashes; the first incarnation of what is today knows as pumpkin pie (pumpkin on the outside, not the inside; how bizarre!). The real deal about pumpkins is that they are liked so much for a very simple reason: tradition. They are easy to grow, and at the same time every year, a plentiful crop is ready to harvest. They also go with everything!

Sorry, pumpkin-head. Colonials didn't celebrate Halloween.

 

Let’s make our own traditions

In the spirit of buying local this holiday season, I discovered a Québec-made spiced rum that I couldn't resist trying. Domaine Pinnacle makes Chic Choc, a smooth and fragrant spiced rum (with a kick-ass Mountaineer-Bear label) distilled in Frelighsburg, Québec, about 1.5 hours away from Montreal. Talk about Canadian; they also make cider fresh from the orchard and maple whiskeys. I had a little gathering of friends, and in the spirit of the season, we threw together this Pumpkin Punch starring Chic Choc and paired it with the gourd-of-the-season.

Pumpkin Punch (Courtesy of Honestly Yum)

  • 750 ml spiced rum (bottle of)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup syrup (spiced) - or less if you want it less sweet
  • 1/2cup pumpkin purée
  • 21/2cups carbonated water
  • cinnamon sticks (for garnish)
  • ice
  • pumpkin (large, or punchbowl)

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