Growing up on the idyllic island of St. John, my taste buds were well-acquainted with the tropical flavors of guava, guavaberry, coconut, and pineapple. The holiday season was a culinary carnival, especially when it came to tarts. My grandmother, my mother Theresa, and all her sisters were artisans of these delicious treats. The aroma of freshly baked tarts wafting through the air was the unofficial herald of the holidays.
But one Thanksgiving, my taste buds were in for a surprise. Our church family had organized a grand potluck, and I was salivating at the thought of devouring my favorite tarts. As I scanned the dessert table, my eyes landed on an unfamiliar dish. It looked like a tart, but something was off. My curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to investigate.
The mysterious dish had been brought by the Kents, an elderly missionary couple who spent their winters on St. John and attended our church. I took a cautious bite, bracing myself for disappointment. But to my astonishment, my palate erupted in a symphony of flavors I had never experienced before. It was delicious, but what was it?
I approached Mrs. Kent to solve the mystery. "Is this a new kind of tart?" I asked, still savoring the unfamiliar taste.
She chuckled, "No, silly boy, this is a pie, not a tart. It's made from pumpkins."
Pumpkins? I was flabbergasted. Back home, pumpkins were for soup not pies. But that day, I learned that the culinary world was much bigger than my island upbringing had led me to believe.
That Thanksgiving marked an awakening for me. It was the day I realized that traditions could be different yet equally delightful. And so, every year since, alongside our family's beloved tarts, a pumpkin pie graces our holiday table, a nod to the Kents and the day my taste buds went on an unexpected adventure.
So, the next time you find yourself at a potluck, don't shy away from the unfamiliar. You never know, it might just be the next delicious chapter in your culinary journey.