According to some of the people who have the honor of calling themselves my friends, I am a distinguishable anorexic. But life in New York and anorexia just does not go hand in hand. It seems everywhere you go, everything you do MUST be related to some sort of food. Especially with Halloween just around the corner, New York has added a new flavor to the taste buds of its fussy residents: the pumpkin flavor. It seems that the Jack O’ Lantern has incorporated itself into each food item available to the human palette. Starting from breakfast items to the dinner flavors, its pumpkin everywhere as people start getting ready to dress up and go treat and treating.
The most pleasing aspect of this season – the pumpkin season, that is – is the return of the ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ at Starbucks. This mildly spiced hot beverage has a hint of the pumpkin flavor that it is wildly popular for and a creamy texture that makes the heart melt. Coming in three different sizes of small, regular and large, this hot soothing beverage is an all time A-listed item for the New Yorkers and other Americans alike.
However, due to its nerve-calming effects, it is unadvisable for students as a morning beverage (as it literally made me fall asleep during my 9 am Calculus class after drinking this tangy beverage at 8.30 in the morning). On the other hand, there are a lot of the regular caffeine addicts who find this latte quite a waste of money and a bulk on the calories. Although there are complaints regarding the actual flavoring of the latte, the complainants fail to regard the fact that this is in fact a latte, not a caffeine infested drink. Therefore, the flavors are bound to be warm and fuzzy instead of being strong and sharp, like a regular shot of espresso or drip coffee. So, for the caffeine people out there, Dunkin Donuts came up with the ‘Pumpkin Coffee’, which I hope will soothe their unraveling nerve. Nevertheless, the ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ from Starbucks is one drink everyone should try at least once, regardless of the 300 calories and sugary taste, if they happen to find themselves in the US during fall.
Although muffins are best served warm and with the usual blend of berries or the occasional chocolate chip, the pumpkin flavored muffin is a must have during Halloween season. As with the Pumpkin Spice Latte, this muffin is a seasonal treat but extremely popular and available in all sorts of bakeries in the US, although I personally find the homemade ones more satisfying and filling. These pumpkin treats are not just limited to muffins, but also include pumpkin spiced cakes, pumpkin pastries, pumpkin bars, pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin pies and pumpkin cupcakes, and are often accompanied with a wide range of add-ons like chocolate chips, cream cheese, peppermint, nuts and, of course, fruits.
But the best deal I got as a dorm student (meaning, having no home baked treats) is undoubtedly the Dunkin Donuts’ Pumpkin Muffin. This amazing treat is extremely pretty (with white icing and all) and is an awesome complement to the Pumpkin Donut and Munchkins or the Pumpkin Coffee offered at the same outlet. McDonalds offers its very own pumpkin pie, exclusive for this season too, but they are only recommended if your wallet is on the thinner side. So if you do not have a good, old grandma making pumpkin cheese cakes and pumpkin cupcakes for you, then I will recommend you to try these pumpkin treats (or at least download the recipes and bake them with our very own ‘mishti kumra’…I am sure they will be the same delights you can savor sitting at home).
While the fast food chains try to come up with new and innovative food items to grace their menu every fall with the basic idea of the ‘pumpkin’ (and almost always fail miserably), some restaurants pull up their pants too and try to come up with their own version of the pumpkin season. A distant aunt of mine (‘dur ka rishtedaar’) took me with her family to this restaurant in New Jersey for the fall season. This restaurant – Casa Di Trevi – is apparently quite discreetly well known for its fall whip-ups; the restaurant boasts a seasonal menu of Pumpkin Ravioli with Butternut Squash Sauce, Pumpkin Tortellini, Pumpkin Tiramisu and Homemade Iced Pumpkin Cookies. Although the prices are not amiable to the wallet, the food was worth it (at least as a once in a year treat).
Besides all these, the McDonalds’ Sweet Autumn Shake, Dairy Queen’s Pumpkin Pie Blizzard, Krispy Keme’s Pumpkin Spice Donut, Jack in the Box’s Pumpkin Pie, Jamba Juice’s Pumpkin Smash Smoothie and Red Mango’s pumpkin flavored frozen yogurt are some of the many pumpkin flavored items that regally announce the arrival of Halloween and, most importantly, the fall season after the hot and humid summer months. So cheers to the months of golden crisp leaves and delicious pumpkin flavors!