food, history and art – some ruminations by Fredrika Jacobs

PUMPKIN… no longer just for carving or pies!

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I am heading to Italy but before I depart I felt it seasonally appropriate to share the following bit of information concerning pumpkins and gourds.

As Giacomo Castelvetro rightly observed in his “A Brief Account of the Fruit, Herbs, and Vegetables of Italy,” 1614, PUMPKINS, or gourds, are “at their best in the autumn.”

He goes on to say, “Their popular name is ‘marine pumpkins,’ perhaps because they are used by inexperienced swimmers, scared of drowning in the sea, who strap a whole dried gourd under their chests to keep them from sinking into the water. Small children learn to swim in the rivers with them.” How resourceful is that!

an assortment of pumpkins

an assortment of pumpkins

Author: Pulcinella Pasta

Fredrika Jacobs, professor emerita of Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University, is the author of three books focused on the art and culture of Renaissance Italy ("Defining the Renaissance Virtuosa: Women Artists and the language of art history and criticism" (1997/99); "The Living Image in the Renaissance" (2005); and "Votive Panels and Popular Piety in Early Modern Italy" (2013). Additionally, she has contributed essays and articles to dozens of books and scholarly journals and spoken at symposia and conferences around the world.

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