Joumou in Haitian Creole, Giraumon in French, English translation of our Haiti pumpkin to be determined.
I have yet to figure out the exact squash variety our giraumon belongs to. Many people simply refer to it as just another pumpkin in English. As for the internet, it assimilates Caribbean squash to calabash. However, in my humble opinion, our joumou is closer in appearance to the kabosha squash. For lack of a definite answer on the right appellation, for now, I will stick to its French name, giraumon.
Giraumon is at the core of our Haitian culinary traditions. It is the key ingredient of our “soup joumou,” the soup that makes every Haitian around the world proud of their heritage.
Yet today, there will be no soup on this blog. And, there probably never will be.
After all, there is no void for soup joumou online. The web is already filled with endless recipes. Do a quick Google search for that dish, and you will see what I mean.
Today, I thus voluntarily choose to take a different direction with that pumpkin, which lends itself to endless recipes both salty and sweet.
Instead of our traditional soup, I will serve you a savory Haitian pumpkin pie; the very same pie that taught me to appreciate this squash more than any soup joumou ever could.
Truth is, I have never been a fan of that soup – insert Haitian gasp and shocked face here.
I am fully aware that this statement will disappoint many of my fellow countrymen, but it is the honest truth. Though I do eat it on occasion – mostly when I have no choice because it is the only dish served at the table – I never really acquired a taste for that soup.
As a consequence, for the longest time, I avoided giraumon altogether. I didn’t really know of any other ways to eat it unless it was incorporated – better said buried – in another dish. We do in fact prepare joumou flavored maïs moulu. Some even add the pureed squash to our tchaka, though in our family, we do not.
The savory giraumon pie I am about to serve you changed my view of that vegetable. Up until the day I first tried it, I was far from imagining that I could ever develop a taste for that squash. My mother herself never thought that would be possible.
The first time she prepared that pie she was convinced I wouldn’t even taste it. Yet, I did. And to everyone’s surprise – including mine – I was delighted.
With her pie, I discovered that the giraumon puree in itself is quite flavorful. It makes the perfect silky smooth savory pie without requiring a ton of ingredients.
While other recipes may tell you otherwise, my mother’s version doesn’t require a béchamel. All you have to do is mash the giraumon into a puree, season it, add some cheese and pour the mixture over a piecrust. You could also use this same mixture to prepare a crust less pie or gratiné as we would call it in Haiti.
If you ask me, this is one of the easiest pies to prepare. And one I encourage you to try if you ever come across a giraumon.
A savory Haitian 'joumou' pumpkin pie
- 1/2 lb Giraumon (pumpkin)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1/3 cup of grated Tête de Maure cheese
- 1 prepared pie crust
- Cook the giraumon in some water until tender enough to be mashed
- Mash the giraumon into a puree
- Season with salt, pepper and a mashed garlic clove
- Incorporate the cream and the cheese
- Mix well, adjusting the seasoning if needed
- Pour the mixture over a pie crust
- Bake until the crust is golden