A giant pumpkin in the hands of a Community Kitchen volunteer

Giant Cretan pumpkins sent to the Community kitchen with love

When Nicos Anastasakis (90 years young) from the village of Perivolia in southwest Crete heard about our work, he insisted on sending a gift back to the kitchen in Brussels… a harvest of giant pumpkins! Our project director Gayl and her Cretan husband Nicholas managed to squeeze the homegrown gifts into the boot of their car for a long journey back to Brussels – including adventures by road, sea and rail.

3,000 km later, the gourdgeous gourds were delivered into the arms of our head chef Akkara. Anyone with pumpkin experience will tell you that oversize squashes are often watery and lacking in taste. However, Akkara and her team reported these Cretan “whoppas” were packed full of flavour. They turned them into a pumpkin and carrot stew served with couscous at the Humanitarian Hub.

Pumpkins, grown mainly in Europe and North America, are incredibly versatile vegetables. Part of the squash family, they can be roasted, steamed, stewed or boiled and mashed, for use in soups, breads, cakes and pies. Their large green seeds have a delicious, nutty flavour and creamy texture – perfect as a topping for salad. Pumpkins usually weigh between four and eight kilograms, but the largest varieties can weigh over 35 kilograms. Harvested in the autumn, these vegetables can keep for several months if stored in a dry place, making giant pumpkins a perfect standby for feeding a crowd.

A big thank you to Nicos for sharing the bounty of his garden. We are blessed by a community which supports our mission and work, both in Brussels and from far away!