When I heard that a young girl was cultivating pumpkins and other amazing and rare vegetable varieties I immediately had a picture of her in my mind…When I met her it was one of those times when you smile to yourself because even when you think you are progressive and open minded, you realise that parents, school, television and society generally have filled our minds with stereotypes and when they are broken you laugh at your stupidity..
Irini was born in the 80s, studied at the Horticultural University and instead of dancing and drinking coffees and working in something else, cultivates amazing vegetables..
How many young, beautiful young women do you know who do that? Irini is one of those- and is amazing.
The pumpkins she produces are not the simple large yellow ones or the smaller ones found in most supermarkets. Irini has found many rare incredible varieties which she cultivates and they are the best you will ever try.
Be in no doubt that it is the specific variety in all the vegetables and fruit which makes all the difference in taste and quality.
Isn’t it true that the varieties of Pilafa and Pink Lady apples are the tastiest? Also don’t the Golden and Jona Gold varietieshave a different taste and texture? It’s the same for all the fruit and vegetables..the oranges and the cucumbers as well as the pumpkins.
Apart from the cultivation techniques, the soil and the fertiliser etc, the variety plays a huge role in the final product.
Irini cultivates three of my favourite varieties of pumpkin that I didn’t ever expect to find in Greece.
She grows the varieties Red Kuri, Crown Prince and Spaghetti Squash.
The Red Kuri pumpkins are relatively small, easily handled, have a lovely texture and mostly don’t need peeling as the peel is soft and edible!
They are wonderful roasted with a little oil salt and pepper..Great for a risotto or teamed with roast meat.
The Crown Prince variety is the king of pumpkins. The peel is a wonderful grey colour with vivid orange flesh with a velvety texture which once you have tried you would never use another variety for your soups.
They also have a great taste which reminds you of chestnut..generally a truly fine pumpkin that you should try..
Like the Red Kuri it’s good to simply, for the first time, roast them with a little oil salt and pepper to really check out their difference and their unique taste.
Afterwards just start experimenting with them and you will be blown away!
The Spaghetti squash on the other hand are completely crazy pumpkins..If you cut them when they are ripe down the middle them look like any other pumpkin or squash.. but once you roast them the flesh separates easily with a fork to resemble spaghetti and it got it’s name from this and makes it possible to substitute this squash for pasta in recipes..isn’t that incredible?
Apart from all of these I got some very small varieties which could easily be served as individual portions. Apart form the pumpkins that she grows once a year, she cultivates many other varieties of strange vegetables such as multi coloured beets, sweet multi coloured peppers which can be eaten like a snack, green and mauve broccoli and she has many great ideas she wishes to put into action for the future.
She wants for instance, the fields to be left open to the public to come and collect the vegetables themselves straight out of the ground and also wants to cultivate other vegetables like varieties of potato some for roasting others for salads or boiling and generally she wants to create a closer relationship with her clients and make sure that they get them fresh within 24 hours from leaving the ground…
I am sure she will manage this because she has a vision about all of this.
I will go at the beginning of spring and check out the fields and see all the products in the ground from up close. I have already started experimenting with her products and my first recipe was the wonderful Pumpkin Pie which I made recently.
Her products can be found:
In Athens:at The Fast Market in Marousi (Mesogeion 37 and Dafnis)
In Ioannina: Sep Markets Papadopoulos (9 places)
In Lamia: Tsara Brothers grocers, Kyprou 29
In Nea Magnisia: Pardalis Grocers
If you wish to speak to her in person, her number is: 6980097592