A sweet treat: The pleasures of pumpkin-flavored foods

A sweet treat: The pleasures of pumpkin-flavored foods

Ali Freedman

The temperatures might be a touch too high, but it is autumn in Tucson and Halloween is just around the corner. With the change in the leaves (yes, a few leaves in town do change color) and the cool-ish temperatures, out comes the pumpkin spice. From lattes or pancakes, pumpkin is popping up everywhere. But this leaves a question: what exactly is pumpkin spice?

According to “”The Joy of Cooking,”” Foodtv.com and a plethora of other recipe sources, pumpkin spice is generally a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, allspice or clove and nutmeg. If you’re not familiar with all these spices, just think of the way a pumpkin pie smells or the blend of Christmas spices you find in grocery stores.

So, where is the pumpkin? Good question. Pumpkin flavor tends to come from two sources, it seems: pumpkin-flavored syrup — this is what you will find in Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte — and pumpkin puree, the giant cans of pumpkin used in pies. Add your spice mixture and some pumpkin flavor and you have the basis for the ubiquitous pumpkin spice flavor.

What are the top pumpkin-flavored products? Well, in my humble opinion, there are three must-tries.

Pumpkin pancakes. Topped with loads of whipped cream, these amazing morsels are the greatest. They start to pop up at eateries like IHOP in November but great mixes can be found at stores like AJ’s Fine Foods and Crate&Barrel. Skip the syrup with these babies, the whipped cream is all you need.

Pumpkin pie shakes and ice cream. Since Tucson is still pretty warm these days, a frosty treat is a nice refreshment. While it may seem an odd mix, pumpkin and diary go well together. You must have whipped cream with your pie, so why would ice cream not be as delish? You can find the ice cream in any major grocery store. Pumpkin shakes pop up around town through out the season. Zin Burger is offering a pumpkin pie shake right now and the Cellar Bistro often offers a pumpkin shake in November.

Pumpkin spice lattes. Don’t think it’s only Starbucks; pumpkin spice lattes pop up in cafés all over town. Their blend of pumpkin flavor and spices pairs perfectly with coffee and is just as good cold as it is hot. You’ll be happy to see most cafes offering this treat, and each has its own spin and a slightly different flavor. If you’re looking for a latte close to campus, you might check out Dunkin’ Donuts or even, yes, Starbucks.

That said, just because these are my top three doesn’t mean there isn’t more pumpkin to be had — from pies to cakes, cookies and beyond. Now that you know what makes something pumpkin spice, go out and eat some seasonal flavors or even try to make your own pumpkin-flavored treats.