The sight of pumpkins marks the beginning of fall for most of us here in America. I’ve recently heard numerous people mention that the “Pumpkin Spice Latte” was back, meaning that fall had arrived (even though in many parts of the country, the temperatures were anything but fall-like. So what gives with the pumpkin?
The pumpkin has always held a place of importance in the Americas. The early Native Americans roasted pumpkin strips over campfires and used them as a food source, long before the arrival of European explorers:
- Pumpkins helped the Native Americans make it through long cold winters.
- They used the sweet flesh in numerous ways: roasted, baked, parched, boiled and dried.
- They ate pumpkin seeds and also used them as a medicine.
- The blossoms were added to stews.
- Dried pumpkin could be stored and ground into flour.
- They dried the shells and used them as bowls and containers to store grain, beans and seeds.
Needless to say, the pumpkin was used for a variety of things!
Some historians claim that the early settlers might not have survived had it not been for the pumpkin. Take a look at this old saying:
“For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.”
-Pilgrim verse, circa 1633
Some people enjoy pumpkin flavored items, and some people simply do not. I for one love a big slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. I also like roasted pumpkin seeds. Although it is no longer the life sustaining food that it once was, it is still an important symbol for yet another wonderful time of year. Have you been to a pumpkin patch yet? If not, what are you waiting for?