I normally despise syrupy-sweet desserts but for some reason I decided earlier this week that I absolutely had to buy some “pumpkin jam” that was sitting at the checkout at my usual falafel spot/Middle Eastern grocery. I love every other pumpkin dessert I’ve tried, so why not? I asked the owner what it was and how you eat it. She said you just eat it as is and that it comes from her hometown. They’re having trouble getting it because of what’s going on in Syria right now, so she asked me to be sure to report back and tell her whether I liked it.
I guess it’s telling that it took me five days to work up the nerve to try it. I started worrying because I realized I wouldn’t be able to go back to the store until I tried it. Well, last night I finally did. I took a small bite out of one piece, chewed for a bit and spit it out. My co-taster managed a whole piece, but mostly because he was brave enough (or stupid enough) to put a whole piece in his mouth all at once.
The jam is made with pickling lime (calcium hydroxide), which causes the pumpkin to retain much of its original crunch and stringiness. Thankfully I had read about the crunch in advance. I had also assumed that the syrup was a sugar syrup, but it tasted more like honey. At least, it had that funk that honey sometimes has, sour but not in a pleasant, citrusy way. In fact, pretty much all I tasted was sour funk.
Now I have to go back and tell the owner that I didn’t care for it. Maybe I won’t be having falafel for a while after all. My co-taster suggested putting it this way: “Isn’t it interesting how sweets are the most culturally specific tastes?”
The good news is that I think I’ve found I have a birthday present for my brother-in-law.