Since I’ve been stuck on the topic of fall lately, I thought I might as well have a rant about gourds. Yes, gourds. Like pumpkins (which are indeed themselves a gourd), gourds are one of those things that inevitably pop up in America sometime around September and remain ubiquitous through November.
But, unlike pumpkins, which serve a number of uses – including pumpkin pie, jack o’ lanterns, roasted pumpkin seeds, and of course pumpkin spice lattes – gourds seem to have no discernible purpose. They are just suddenly there, and Americans impulsively buy them. For no good “use” other than decorating one’s doorstep or dining table.
Of course the futility of gourds (or should I say, the fruitlessness of gourds – yes, pun intended) is not innate. In Africa, the calabash (a gourd which grows on a tree) is used for all sorts of things: when hollowed out, the hard shell of the fruit can be made into a bowl, a cup, a water jug, a container, a ladle, or a musical instrument.
But I’ve never seen anyone in the US use gourds in any sort of practical way, be it crafting useful things from them or even cooking with them. Gourds are just there, chilling out, making up your autumnal centerpiece and looking all ornamental.