The deluge of pumpkin-flavored everything is NOT alive and well in France. For some of you, that’s probably a good thing, but for me, a pumpkin lover, I have to say France’s autumnal spirit is majorly lacking when it comes to pumpkins. In the U.S. this time of year, it’s nearly impossible to escape pumpkin flavored/scented items. Fall is in full swing and with that comes a lifetime’s worth of pumpkin scented candles, pumpkin lattes, coffee creamer, baked goods and even Pringles (I saw this the other day online). Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors so I have always looked forward to the pumpkin frenzy and now more than ever, I really, really miss it. But I’m going to make it happen myself.
For the past two weekends, I’ve been on the hunt trying to find a bright orange pumpkin to carve, but they just haven’t arrived yet in my town. And what about pumpkin-flavored foods in France? Well, trying to find something pumpkin flavored is nearly impossible. They do have pumpkin varieties and all types of squash, though, and most of the time these pumpkins are vegetables for cooking — not decorating. They look more like gourds and not the orange ones that you cut and decorate.
What else is missing?
There are no pumpkin carving kits since Halloween isn’t really a big thing, no mainstream pumpkin patches where you can pick your own pumpkins (although I hear there’s one in the Paris area), no cans of pumpkin and definitely no pumpkin-flavored foods or decor to be found around these parts.
Halloween doesn’t exist in France like it does in the U.S. Some local markets do sell carving pumpkins (citrouille) but the whole commercial side of pumpkin-flavored everything doesn’t exist here. To a point, maybe that’s a good thing. I am forcing myself how to make pumpkin puree from a whole pumpkin since my stock of canned pumpkin has run out.
Instead of focusing on what’s missing, I’ve learned to appreciate these new and interesting pumpkin varieties and other seasonal foods from France.
I am having fun discovering these new things! There’s always something at the market that catches my eye, something I might have walked right past back in the U.S.
But I think the main issue here is that the lack of pumpkin products just reminds me that I’m not in the U.S. — not even close — and that little surprises from family and friends in the mail mean absolutely everything to me this time of year. But along with not being in the U.S., I also appreciate the flip side of being in a new culture with a wealth of things to discover.
For expats facing a similar pumpkin withdrawal dilemma, My Little America does sell canned pumpkin and other seasonal products. Of course the prices are inflated and the shipping isn’t free, but sometimes, paying a little extra for a few comforts of home is worth it.
At home, maybe I’d splurge on a pair of shoes. But wow, how life has changed. Now I splurge on cans of pumpkin — but it feels good!