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  • Writer's pictureSimone Boyd

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

The heirloom movement has a number of "poster child's" - moon and stars watermelon, rainbow chard and the Galeux d'Eysines pumpkin. Heirloom Naturally of course, grows all three and I am delighted to introduce you to this french heirloom pumpkin. They say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and it is certainly the case with this pumpkin. Listed in seed catalogues as early as 1880, Galeux d'Eysines hails from the city of Eysines, in the Bordeaux region of France. The area was, and still is, renowned for its quality soils, substantial market gardens and abundant crops, particularly potatoes and pumpkins. It is thought an agronomist named Pierre Durel de La Plane bred this pumpkin on his family property in Eysines, in the mid 1800's, effectively creating a pumpkin with pale orange flesh and warts on the skin which signify a sweetness in flavour. Interestingly, the market gardeners from Eysines gained such a following amongst customers at the Market of Capucins, they had other stall holders rife with jealousy. It seems that even back in the 1800's, the simplest way to express jealousy was to gossip, belittle and name call. As so, the highly sort after pumpkin (and its growers), was given the name Galeux d'Eysines, which effectively translates into "the guy from Eysines with scabies!" Dinner anyone? It is also commonly called the peanut pumpkin owing to the peanut like appearance the warts have. I will leave it to you to decide which name makes them feel more palatable.  These gorgeous pumpkins have a moist flesh making them perfect for soups, roasting or baking. In terms of nutritional value, they are rich in vitamin A and C, potassium, fibre and beta-carotene. The seeds can also be eaten. Of course, they have natural sugars too and as the sugars increase within the flesh, they are forced out through the skin. Likewise, if the skin is damaged in some way, a wart will grow in that spot as it repairs and continues its growth cycle. Effectively, the more warts, the sweeter it is.

Personally, however, I am finding it very difficult to cut them up and eat them. Not because they taste dreadful (far from it!) but because they are a sculptural masterpiece! An example of Mother Nature using her ultimate artistic flare. If I could have my way, they would sit on shelves in my kitchen for all to admire for eternity. No two pumpkins are the same - in shape, colour, wart-iness, texture, which only serves to reaffirm my love for heirlooms. Their uniqueness, their flavour, their vibrancy, their inability to be easily embraced by the mainstream (the warts make them very challenging to transport).  I hope you will find these pumpkins are intriguing as I do. Let me know what you think.

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