The Mystery and History of Pumpkins

(Frank) Okay, we’re back. Our director says we were overtime on that, so this is going to be very quick, I’m done. (Deb) [Laughs] I like Pumpkins, yes, there we go. (Frank) There we go. (Deb) Hey, I make awesome pumpkin soup, you like pumpkin soup? (Frank) No, I’ve never had pumpkin soup. (Deb) All right then. Next time, in addition to the costumes that we’re going to be coming up with, I will make you some Pumpkin soup. Now, it’s rich; it’s full of butter and cream and all the things that make the south great, but it is good. (Frank) Okay. (Deb) A little dash of nutmeg. (Frank) Sounds good. (Deb) It is to die for, it is so good. We’ve got this pumpkin segment coming up which reminds me share your Pumpkin recipes with us. (Frank) Pumpkin spice. (Deb) Not that I might share them with anybody, I just want to use them. [Laughs]. (Frank) Everything is pumpkin spice. (Deb) Yes, and I love it. I got some spray the other day, house spray, because we can’t have candles around the cats but the Pumpkin Spice- (Frank) I thought it was a joke, but they have laundry detergent that’s pumpkin spice. (Deb) –on everything (Frank) Really? (Deb) I’ve got the air freshener, yes. (Frank) [Laughs] I’m gone. (Deb) We’re nuts about pumpkins. No fruit or vegetable captures the imagination like the pumpkin. Cinderella used it as a coach; Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater kept his wife inside its shell; Charlie Brown fell asleep awaiting the arrival of the Great One. It scares us, it entertains us, it feeds us. My favorite scene from all the Harry Potter movies is Hagrid’s pumpkin patch. Aren’t those pumpkins wonderful? Don’t they conjure images of coaches and dwelling places for little beings? There is a wonderful mystery to a pumpkin. Now comes the season for pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ale, pumpkin truffle. . . oh my. My friend, Bryce Benedict, used to grow hops to make his own pumpkin ale which he generously shared a couple of years ago. It made the best cheddar ale soup I have ever tasted. The pumpkin flavor was just the extra touch to make it interesting. The website, All About Pumpkins, lists dozens of varieties and gives us a little history. Pumpkins and squash are believed to have originated in the ancient Americas. These early pumpkins were not the traditional round orange upright Jack-O-Lantern fruit we think of today when you hear the word pumpkin. They were a crooked neck variety, which stored well. Archeologists have determined that variations of squash and pumpkins were cultivated along river and creek banks along with sunflowers and beans. This took place long before the emergence of maize, corn. After maize was introduced, ancient farmers learned to grow squash with maize and beans using the “Three Sisters” tradition. According to Pumpkin Patches and More, the tradition of carving a jack-o-lantern from the pumpkin began in Scotland and Ireland, well, of course! Except, they used turnips, since pumpkins were native to the New World. Can you imagine homes decked out in turnips, or being scared to your stocking feet by a candle inside a turnip? Well, my friend Ian Hall, token Scotsman, verifies the tale and adds that the turnips were pretty hard to carve! And now, dear viewers, I’m off to the pumpkin patch.

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