Pamela Feldman

A memory

I remember a delightful storytelling moment when Sam Martinez and I were taking a directed readings course with Sid on the Anthropology of Work (sometime during the early 1980s). Somehow we digressed from work to unions to Sid's mother's experience as a Wobbly, saving herself from the attack of a mounted policeman by standing in front of a plate glass window. Now, I don't know that I remember the details of the story correctly, but Sid's energy and delight in the telling, and my delight in the listening, are clear as day.

A recipe

This one, Sid, is originally from the U.N. Cookbook (probably published in the 1950s), changed over time since my childhood, and in our house usually made in its vegetarian version (we leave out the original beef). It's pumpkin stew from Argentina (Cameroonian food is just too hard to cook here).

Stew is stew, which means you can put a lot into it, use what you have around, improvise, and eat it only the day after you first cook it.

Brown onion in olive oil at the bottom of a stew or soup pot. (If you like meat, brown stew beef with the onions. I'd add some rosemary if I did it with beef.)

Cut in big chunks:

sweet potato (the more the merrier)
potato (I like the red ones, and leave the skin on)
plum tomatoes (canned are fine)
green pepper
green beans are good, too, but not too many
corn kernels

Add water so that all ingredients are wet, plus a little red wine.

Add dried apricots (the more the merrier, especially if you like sweet with savory).

Fresh black pepper, and salt if you want, to taste.

It doesn't need much in the way of herbs. A little oregano is nice, or some coarsely chopped fresh basil.

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble until the potatoes are done.

If it's the right season, hollow out a pumpkin, as if you were preparing to carve a jack-o-latern. Salt and pepper the insides. Put the cooked stew in the pumpkin, as if the pumpkin were a soup tureen. Bake at 350 F for about an hour. Just put the pumpkin hat on for the last 15 minutes so that its stem-handle doesn't get too soft.

It looks very dramatic on the table. Serve with fresh, hearty bread, and any good cheese. This is a fall and winter dish, which means we can almost eat it year round in Minnesota.