Python and pumpkin. But not together.

Let’s start with pumpkin, the food we’re all probably more familiar with.

Last fall I went through the canned pumpkin shortage crisis. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I started reading online that the pumpkin crops had been bad and I panicked. One of my favorite parts about fall involved all things pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pie, cookies, ice cream, waffles, you name it I could eat it pumpkin-ized.

This winter Shaun and I found ourselves in the discount aisle at Kroger. Do all Kroger stores have that? Random stuff on a shelf marked down for no apparent reason other than some man with a price gun decided to run it down? I mean, bags of powdered sugar identical to the powdered sugar in the baking aisle for like $1.40 less. Anyway, we found cans of organic pumpkin for something like $.49. We bought probably 10. I have a sick pumpkin obsession. Kind of like jelly beans. Oh my gosh if I could find pumpkin flavored jelly beans I’d die. Do those exist? Find them for me. Please.

So yesterday I thought maybe I’d finally do something with one of these cans of pumpkin in the cupboard. I found a recipe here for pumpkin cheddar muffins and decided to play around with it a bit. I used up some jalapeño peppadew cheddar cheese and canned pumpkin to make sort of a spicy, cheesy muffin. It wasn’t an epic success, but it wasn’t an epic fail either. They were tasty. Sort of sweet, sort of spicy. I replaced some of the brown sugar in the original recipe with honey and used applesauce as my butter replacement.

Next time I’d probably try corn meal and even adding corn to the muffins to make sort of a cornbread out of it. I continue to love and obsess over pumpkin.

Wanna know something that I have never loved and obsessed over? Snakes. I hate snakes. They’re gross. One time when I was 6 years old and adorable (which feels like 40 million years ago) there was a snake wrapped around my bedroom window. My mom was vacuuming the living room while I pretended to dust and clean my room to be just like her. I ran into the living room screaming/shrieking/crying out in agony over the gianormous snake outside. Mom, of course being well aware of the extreme drama queen that I was still am, brushed it off telling me I was probably imagining things and that surely it was just a tiny worm. It wasn’t until she finally came in to see the beastly anaconda black snake for herself that she believed me.

When my parents first bought our house in the country and began to fix it up my dad lived there through the construction while mom, baby brother and I spent many nights in a motel. One day we stood on the porch (dad inside the front door, mom and I outside it) while a black snake wrapped the length of the door frame. I, the ever dramatic, pestering child, pulled on my mom’s coat repeating “mom, mom, mommy, mommy” until she finally justified me by asking what I wanted. I pointed at the snake, she screamed, dad slammed the door on us knocking the snake to the ground at our feet. It’s a wonder mom didn’t divorce dad right then and there. So very chivalrous of him to leave a screaming woman and child on the doorstep.

I’ve got several snake stories piled up like that. But I’ll stop boring you. You get the picture. Not a snake lover. Period.

Shaun and I have been obsessing over the Giant Eagle Market District they opened in Upper Arlington. We are in complete awe over the meat counter. There are so many things to choose from. We always stare at the $29.99/lb rattlesnake and python and talk about how crazy it would be to try them. I thought I was safe. Surely we’d never buy any. At that price, might as well buy lobster or some fancy cut of beef.

But I’m not that lucky. When we went wine tasting on Friday, we stood in awe once again at the meat counter. And then someone behind the counter spoke up making a joke about “Can I interest you in some rattlesnake or python?” We laughed and Shaun told him our predicament. Sounds neat and cool to try, but at nearly $30 a pound? It could taste terrible or we could really screw it up. The man told Shaun to pick one and I nearly died.

Long story short we ended up with 1.1 pounds of python in our shopping basket and not a single idea of what we were going to do with it.

Yesterday we finally broke into the package. Vietnamese python.

We armed ourselves with spices.

We pan fried it.

We grilled the sucker.

We even braised the slimy guy in some beer. Of course we had to sear him in some butter first… Butter and beer. They make everything better.

The verdict? It takes on whatever flavor you try to impart on it. The pan fried one? Tasted like the curry powder we rubbed it in. The beer braised? Tasted like beer. The one we grilled tasted like grilled chicken. No fishy taste and contrary to what one of the meat guys we met at the Market District informed us, it does NOT taste or smell like buttered popcorn.

It’s a lean piece of muscle. Not a shred of fatty meat to it. It was rubbery. The internet tried to warn us. We thought we could do better. Shaun thought we could make rubber snake into deliciousness. I thought, “wouldn’t it be cool to eat meat that tasted like buttered popcorn?!?!”

-Kimberly

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2 Responses to Python and pumpkin. But not together.

  1. Ben Walters says:

    I got to try the pan seared and the grilled versions. While both tasted good because the python – much like tofu – took on all of the flavor of the spices, the texture was not unmanageable (like chewing a bike tire, I had to pull with all of my might just to get a bite).
    I wish it would have turned out better for you all on this one – I really wanted it to be amazing. But hey we all cook a mediocre meal now and again.
    I do have to say yesterday was a little surreal – I tried your python and made mountain oysters for the first time (were tender at first but as they cool – minutes after I took them out of the pan – they were pretty rubbery too). Here’s to the smoked wild boar shoulder tenderloin butt I’m gonna do up tomorrow (currently covered in BBQ rub) and all of our future cooking adventures coming out better in the future.

  2. Nicole says:

    Free rattlesnake meat? Hmm…while it’s always cool to receive free stuff, I’d be thinking they’re willing to offer it up because NO ONE is buying it, LOL.

    As for the pumpkin shortage, I was totally unaware of it until people in the blogosphere were carrying on about it. I still had a few cans left from the prior season, so I was set. I did make sure to stock up once it was available in stores, though. I’ve been using it to make this microwave protein muffin that makes the house smell awful, but with the right mix-ins, it tastes pretty good.

    Tried Googling pumpkin jelly beans, but was distracted by the Jelly Belly “nasty” flavored beans. They don’t have pumpkin, but they do have The Ronald Reagan Centennial 50-Flavor Gift Box. ::puzzled head tilt::

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