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The first New England Thanksgiving was held in October 1621, after a year of struggle that had produced a better harvest. The dinner involved a day of prayer with a holiday meal and, of course, “pompion” was a sure staple at the table. The Pilgrims named the pumpkin “pompion,” or “pompkin.” Pumpkin pie, as we know it, probably was not served but other pumpkin dishes were. In the beginning, they stewed it and mixed it with Native American cornmeal to make bread. They also boiled the fruit into a gruel and flavored it with butter, vinegar, and ginger. They baked it whole (wrapped in cabbage leaves) in the hot ashes of the fire. Then, they cut it open, removed the seeds, and served it with animal fat and maple syrup. They hollowed out pumpkins and squash and filled them with milk, eggs, and spices and baked them whole in slow ovens.
AN EARLY PILGRIM-INVENTED PUMPKIN PIE RECIPE INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING:
top was sliced off the pumpkin.
In the Fall, from September to November, across much of North America, cultivated pumpkins can be seen in fields, on farm stands, and on display. When Halloween comes, pumpkins are made into decorative jack-o’-lanterns, introduced in the mid-nineteenth century. When Thanksgiving arrives, the pulp of the pumpkin is transformed into delicious pumpkin pie, bread, cake, cookies, and other recipes.