The differences between France and America are subtle. Take Mums and pumpkins for example.
Mums a fall flower arrives in force in October. They spill out from the French floral shops onto the streets, creating a parade of magnificent color. Just as pumpkins shout out Autumn in America, Mums are the flower that say Autumn is here in France. Pumpkins are a food in France, were in the States pumpkins are more for decoration, a Halloween jack-o-lantern.
When invited to a dinner party it is a thoughtful gesture to bring something to the hostess. Candy, wine, or flowers is the typical avenue. (FLASHBACK 1988..... Why not bring a Mums plant I thought and bought one that seem to be a perfect ball of gold. When I came home French husband told me it was a plant that symbolized All Soul's Day. "It is the flower we take to the graveside of those we love who have gone before us."
Oh! scratch that
flower off the list. Paper whites, can I bring them instead? Do they have anything marked on them as unusual or special?)
Mums are not a flower to give to "the living" in France.
How about roses? Yellow means friendship and faithfulness. Red means love. What does a wreath of green mean? Pink means you stink...no no no it doesn't but I thought I'd write that to see if you were following along, are just gazing at the photos.
Any flower will do, I like them all don't you? I wonder if I brought a pumpkin as a hostess gift if the French would find that insulting?
Pumpkin on Penne Pasta
Cut the pumpkin into cubes and steam until nearly cooked, firm but slightly tender.
Slice and saute (in olive oil) three or four cloves of garlic, add pine nuts and saute until lightly golden brown.
Blend (do not puree) the sauteed garlic, pine nuts with Parmesan cheese and fresh cilantro.
In the same pan that you sauteed the garlic, saute until tender the steam pumpkin (add olive oil if needed.)
Turn the burner off, then add the garlic pine nut mixture to the pumpkin. Stir until well mixed.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve on al dente penne pasta.
Photos: From the French market by my Mother in Law's house.