East Midlands Food

East Midlands Food

Pumpkin pie…

It was Thanksgiving on Thursday last week – which set me to thinking about pumpkins. Do we eat them in the UK? The shops are full of them before Halloween, but for carving into lanterns rather than eating. I carved one with my granddaughter this year, and it was harder work than we expected – though the finished result was suitably scary… When I was a child we used turnips to make the Halloween lanterns, more like the tradition of the Jack  O’Lantern that has its origins in Celtic legend and was taken to the USA in turn by Irish migrants, but pumpkin pie is one of the traditional dishes eaten there for Thanksgiving. 

The original Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony in December 1621 when: ‘Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors’. This ‘First Thanksgiving’ was also the last until 1863, when during the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving on 26 November. In 1941 the US Congress agreed an annual date for Thanksgiving of the fourth Thursday in November.

Other foods traditionally eaten at this time include turkey, cranberry sauce and sweetcorn; while the day after Thanksgiving was traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping season, with shops opening earlier than usual and offering large discounts on goods. If you’ve been taking advantage of the online sales this weekend, you will know that this is known as ‘Black Friday’, the name being said to originate in Philapelphia from the heavy streams of pedestrian and road traffic making their way to the sales. More sales mark the end of the traditional Christmas shopping season on Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas Day when spending is often at its highest. Only how many shopping days to go now…? In the meantime, you could still enjoy some pumpkin pie or soup. There’s a recipe for the pie at http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/pumpkinpie_70659, and lots more ideas about cooking pumpkins at http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/pumpkin, including Sausage, Pumpkin and Sage Casserole, and Pumpkin and Amaretti Ravioli with Sage Beurre Noisette.  Or if you fancy something different, how about the courgette cake at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/aug/16/nigel-slater-courgette.

 
 

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A research project that looked at various aspects of food in the East Midlands, linking them with museum displays and objects in the region, and making the results available to as many people as possible in different formats.

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