“We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at noon. If it were not for pumpkin, we should be undoon.” Pilgrim verse, circa 1633
Indigenous Americans introduced pumpkins to the early settlers. These fruits quickly became a vital food source, because they store well through the winter months. Pumpkin strips were often roasted over open fires. Its sweet flesh was also baked, parched, boiled and dried. Seeds were used as a medicine. Dried pumpkin was often stored and ground into flour. Shells were dried and used as bowls and storage containers. As a special treat, the tops of pumpkins were often cut off. When all the seeds and guts were removed, the inside was filled with cream, honey eggs and spices …then carefully buried in the hot ashes of a cooking fire. The result was delicious custard. Someone would eventually get the bright idea of baking the concoction in a pastry shell with perfectly fluted crusts and, then, top it with whipped cream!!
Oh … pumpkin shells were also used as a template for haircuts to ensure a uniform finished cut. That’s why we New Englanders are known as, “pumpkinheads.”