Because yesterday was Halloween and lots of people were doubtless carving Jack o'lanterns, it made me reflective on the nature of pumpkins. I love pumpkin - in spicy coconut type soups, in rich tomato stews or roasted with the parsnips and potatoes to accompany a joint. I've never been a huge fan of pumpkin pie but that's part of my dislike of mixing savoury and sweet. There are some wonderful pumpkin ales that I look forward to seeing on the market in autumn, but that's a post for another time. (Autumn, perhaps.)
But I hate chopping it. I even consider buying it pre-chopped from the supermarket, although I never acually have because that seems to me be the height of laziness, along with pre-grated cheese or pre-peeled oranges - they sell those in Marks and Spencer. Well, I am vindicated, because it turns out that pumpkins are top of the dangerous vegetable list yes, there is one. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) tens of thousands of people every year are admitted to hospital with injuies inflicted from trying to chop pumpkin, and root vegetables are responsible for two-thirds of kitchen injuries.
Advice to avoid such injuries includes the ostensible paradox of having sharp knives, and choosing a vegetable peeler for the task where appropriate. Chopping your vegetables too fast is also hazardous admonishes the survey of more than two thousand customers carried out by an on-line takeaway service (slightly biased motives, anyone?). Two fifths of the participans confessed they had injured themselves by trying to imitate the methods of the TV chefs.
5 Most Dangerous Vegetables:
- Pumpkin - I agree with RoSPA - tasty but dangerous (a bit like Christopher Eccleston)
- Onion - I don't suppose it helps that they make me cry so I have to close my eyes while cutting them up
- Beetroot - they stain everything, and if you forget that you've eaten it, the next time you go to the toilet will be terrifying
- Artichokes - the social embarrassment of not knowing what to do with it can be crippling
- Leeks - one was thrown at Ashley Cole in a Wales v England match in 2011 (what an original insult) and Fluellen beats Pistol up with one and then forces him to eat it in Henry V. Depending on how badly this is taught in schools, it can poison children against Shakespeare for life.