Lovin' the Loire

It’s pumpkin time in the Loire Valley

“You have to love pumpkins,” is the simple explanation of Jean Gadan, the head of a brotherhood of pumpkin eaters. He has a lofty title: the brotherhood’s grand master.

France has dozens of “confréries” — societies of lovers of all manner of food and drink — and pumpkin lovers are no exception. The pumpkin eaters’ version is called the Confrérie des Mangeux d’Pâté de Citrouille de Millançay. 

The sleepy Loire Valley town of Millançay bursts into color — orange, mainly — in late September when its surrounding fields sprout pumpkins and other winter squashes.

Jean Gadan took the time to spell out his recipe for pumpkin pie, and Lovin’ the Loire was all ears, not just because he is the brotherhood’s grand maître but also because he is a widely traveled chef, with stints in Tahiti, Germany and Switzerland under his ample belt.

It’s fairly elaborate, but also time-consuming, as the first two days must be devoted to draining the pumpkin’s flesh. Actually, the recipe works for any variety of winter squash, he notes.

Lovin’ the Loire tried it out, with a result that would make any pumpkin light up with a crooked grin!