Nostalgia: The Interviews and Pumpkin Fritters

I love food. I have always loved food. I love cooking, but what I particularly enjoy is sitting down to a meal with friends or family, talking, telling stories and sharing a few glasses (or bottles) of wine. So for me, just as certain smells evoke strong memories of people and places, so too do certain foods. I was recently doing a supermarket shop and saw a box of Strawberry Pops. For the uninitiated Strawberry Pops are basically the strawberry variety of Coco Pops. Only while Coco Pops are completely delicious, Strawberry Pops are not. Yet my 4 year old self would strongly disagree and declare Strawberry pops the height of deliciousness.  However, my mother – of the sensible and strict variety – limited these to occasional treats. Which basically meant Strawberry Pops fell into the class of food we were allowed as infrequently as chocolate and jam doughnuts. We were allowed such treats when my mother felt especially benevolent. Consequently, even though I now can’t stand the stuff, my Pavlovian response is that I find my mouth watering and I get that slightly excited, hopeful feeling when I see a box. This is sad, I know. But it’s also kind of nice, because this one little box of cereal evokes all these memories.

So I want to capture a little bit of this in my blog. To do this I am going to interview family, friends, basically anyone who is willing, about their memories of the food they ate growing up. I will then ask them to choose one recipe that they would say is their favourite from childhood and post a recipe as part of their interview.

For the very first post I wanted to post a recipe that evoked memories from my childhood. Whilst part of me was simply tempted to say open a packet of Strawberry Pops and add milk, there is one food from my childhood which trumps Strawberry Pops any day – Pumpkin Fritters. Pumpkin Fritters are a traditional South African dish. Although sweet they are served with savoury dishes – for instance we ate them as a side with roast chicken. If this doesn’t appeal to you (and I can quite understand if it doesn’t) then make them as a dessert. Trust me, Pumpkin Fritters are quite simply delicious and worth a try.

Pumpkin Fritters – makes about 15 depending on the size

Ingredients:

2 cups roasted pumpkin (I refuse to peel pumpkin, so I find the easiest way to avoid having to peel pumpkin is to cut a pumpkin into quarters or eights and then to roast the pumpkin 200 degrees celsius until soft. Then you can simply scoop the flesh out of the skin)

half a cup of cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1 egg

canola oil (or similar) for frying

1 cup sugar

1 – 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Method:

1. Combine the pumpkin, cake flour, baking powder and salt. The batter should be, for lack of a better word, gloopy.

2. Beat the egg. Add the egg to the pumpkin mixture and mix well.

3. In a large bowl mix together 1 cup of sugar and 1 – 2 teaspoons of cinnamon (depending on how cinnamony you like things). You will use this mixture to roll the pumpkin fritters in once fried.

3. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan. You want about 5cm of oil in the pan so that the pumpkin fritters float on the surface. Before you start frying the fritters test the heat of the oil by frying a small bit of batter. The oil is ready when the oil bubbles around the batter and batter floats on the surface. Put tablespoons of the batter in the oil and fry until lightly browned. Avoid frying too many fritters at a time – you may need to do a few batches.

4. Drain the fritters on a paper towel and then roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Eat hot. Om nom nom.