Central African Entree
PUMPKIN SEED MEATBALLS
3½ cups shelled, lightly toasted pumpkins or squash seeds
6 garlic cloves
1 medium onion (1 more later)
1¼ pounds ground beef
½ cup water (if needed)
1 medium onion
1 cayenne chile pepper or chile pepper
6 tablespoons palm oil or peanut oil
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 cup fresh parsley
Serves 6. Takes 1 hour 50 minutes.
Add pumpkin seeds to food processor. Grind seeds until they become a powder. Mince garlic and 1 onion. Add pumpkin-seed powder, garlic, and onion to large mixing bowl. Blend with hands. (If needed to form a moist round meatball, gradually add up to ½ cup water, blending each time water is added.) Form mix into 1″ meatballs and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
While meatballs chill, use mandoline to cut 1 onion into ¼” strips. Dice tomatoes. Seed and mince cayenne pepper. Add palm oil to large pan. Heat oil at medium-high heat or until a little bit of onion in oil starts to dance. Add onion slices, tomato, and cayenne chile pepper. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion slices soften. Stir frequently. Add pepper and salt. Stir.
Add 1 cup water. Bring water and sauce to boil using high heat. Stir occasionally. Gently add meatballs to pan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir gently and occasionally. Reduce heat to warm-low and simmer for another 30 minutes. Stir gently and occasionally. Dice parsley. Garnish meatballs with parsley. This entree goes well with rice.
1) Pumpkins are round. Balloons are also round.
2) This similarity is no coincidence; Louis XVI loved pumpkin seeds.
3) What the king of France wanted, the king of France got.
4) So great merchant fleets set out from France to import pumpkins from the Spanish territory of Peru. These Peruvian pumpkins cost the royal treasury a million francs every year.
5) Disaster struck in 1777. Pirates based from British Jamaica captured the French fleet bound for Peru, along with its many chests of gold. This loss proved such a blow to French finances that its treasury wouldn’t recover until the next tidbit.
6) King Louis hired Jacques Necker to handle France’s money matter. For Monsieur Necker knew how to get the best price for everything, centuries before AmazonTM even. Many even said he’d able to count up to six billion if given enough time. And that is how many francs he borrowed.
7) The French navy could now buy enough ships to escort their pumpkin fleets to and from France. Then boom! The American Revolution started. France went to war with the British. The French fleet helped America gain its independence.
8) However, French naval expenditures trained the French treasury. Its navy wouldn’t put to sea for decades. This left King Louis’ annual pumpkin fleets unescorted, easy prey for British ships of the line.
9) What to do? Louis XVI having scooped out all the pumpkin seeds, looked down at the empty pumpkin and had an epiphany. Why not carry Peru’s pumpkins seeds back using giant, balloons made from empty pumpkins?
10) Well, of course, the Peruvian pumpkins of 1781 were not big enough to make balloons or even the baskets beneath them. So France bought up an enormous pumpkin farm in Peru dedicated to making enormous pumpkins. No franc was left unspent in pursuit of the venture.
11) By 1789, Louis XVI had no money. His finance minister asked the French nobility if it would accept new taxes. It said, “Na, na, na, poo, poo.” So Necker asked all of France for a gigantic weenie roast to discuss ways to raise revenue. Fine suggestions were made, then disaster struck. A nobleman cut in front of a long line of peasants waiting for weenies. Words were said. Knives with drawn. Before you could say François’s your uncle the French Revolution began.
12) King Louis would lose his head in the ensuing kerfuffle. Napoleon would seize power and discontinue the bigger-pumpkin experiment in Peru. So bummer.
13) However, so good came out of Louis’ misfortune. America borrowed the idea of France’s Great Weenie Roast of 1789 to celebrate every Fourth of July. And Peru’s big pumpkins are still the envy of the world.
– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.