It took me a long time to warm up to pumpkin, mostly because my mom would serve us pumpkin soup in the fall. If you're unfamiliar with the dish, it tastes like baby food and looks like baby food after the baby is done with it: It's a sort of orangey-brown color that takes a billion hours to make and about four seconds to discover that it tastes like applesauce that's gone off.
I've come a long way since those early days of gagging down repulsive squash water, and pumpkin has won me over — as long as it is surrounded by sugar and carbs and never in liquid form.
But still, for my money, apples are where it's at this fall and every fall. Why? Well...
Let's start with the places where each fall food originates: an apple orchard versus a pumpkin patch. An apple orchard is beautiful, what with the dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves and the crisp scent of fall air. A pumpkin patch is a flat, desolate place with thick, itchy, fuzzy vines connecting one rotting pumpkin to the next. Also, flies.
Get the recipe: Black poison caramel apples
Apples are great raw, while pumpkins are patently disgusting the same way. Apples are even greater dipped in delicious caramel, while it would be absolutely impossible to dip a pumpkin into caramel, unless you had a sizable vat and ropy biceps.
An apple is a light, portable snack that you will not sprain your wrist on when you lift it to your mouth. The same cannot be said of pumpkins, fall's most narcissistic gourd.
Get the recipe: Bacon and goat cheese baked apples
Apples are delicious raw, it's true, but they are also delicious baked into a nice pie, or in a warm bread, or mixed into oatmeal or as a muffin. Pumpkins, though? Also great in all of those things, but then someone tries to make it into a soup, and it's all over.
Face it: You are never settling down in front of your favorite show on a cold autumn night with a glass of wine and pumpkin chunks. But you will do this with apples. And you will love it.
Get the recipe: Caramel apple pie
Apple pie appeals to young and old alike, what with its pretty lattice and flaky crust and dollop of yummy ice cream. Pumpkin pie is only suitable for people who don't like to or cannot chew things.
There is something so, so right about spiked apple cider. But pumpkin juice with vodka? This is where it just starts to feel like people are trying to force it. It's like the bacon craze all over again.
Get the Recipe: Mini gluten-free apple crisps
Because pumpkin does not crisp up well. Anything you put cooked pumpkin into basically just turns into a mushy lump. You can't just sprinkle oats on stuff and call it a "crisp." Lookin' at you, Pinterest.
Ahh, a nice mug of apple cider. It does wonders for icy fingers, looks good with a chunky sweater and makes your tummy all warm. It also goes down your throat without leaving a thick film of algae-like pumpkin slime.
Get the recipe: Homemade maple-toasted pumpkin seed butter
You know what isn't a big deal? Happening across an apple seed in your apple. You just eat up until you reach the seedy core, and then you toss the whole thing. Before you can even use a pumpkin, you have to scoop out all of its gross guts and then pretend like you like toasted pumpkin seeds, and spend a great deal of time doing that. Or making nut butter.
Well, maybe they do, but only because it's awesome, not because they are trying to be the world's biggest cliché.
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