Growing up on a farm in Norway on the roughest coastal line, I had never grown or eaten or seen pumpkins, except from when Cinderella´s fairy God mother turned one into a magical chariot for Cinderella to go to the ball at the Castle. I was first introduced to pumpkin after 20 years old when I lived and studied in the USA. And it was only associated with Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving.However, Pumpkin can be used for so much more. And it is not American. It is used all over the world, and has been since ancient times.
ChinaPumpkin — to Bring Good Health
The tradition of eating pumpkin during the moonfestival is followed by people living south of the Yangtze River.
Poor families chose to eat pumpkin during the Mid-Autumn Festival in ancient times, as they couldn't afford mooncakes. The tradition has been passed down, and eating pumpkin on the Mid-Autumn Festival night is believed to bring people good health.
An interesting legend goes that a very poor family, a couple with their daughter, lived at the foot of South Mountain. The old couples were seriously sick for lack of food and clothes. The daughter found an oval-shaped melon one day when she was working in the fields on the South Mountain. She brought the melon home and cooked to serve to her dying parents. Surprisingly, her sick parents recovered after eating the melon. Because the melon was picked from the South Mountain, so it was named 'south melon' (the Chinese name for pumpkin).
HaitiPumpkin soup, The Symbol of Freedom.
Pumpkin soup is served in Haiti on January 1, the anniversary of Haiti's liberation from France. It is said that the soup was once a delicacy reserved for white masters but forbidden to the slaves who cooked it. January 1st, 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti a free republic. After Independence, Haitians took to eating it to celebrate the world's first and only successful slave revolution resulting in an independent nation.
What does that have to do with pumpkin soup? Everything!!! All throughout their reign of terror, the French forbade all Haitians from drinking pumpkin soup. It was considered a delicacy far too sophisticated for the palate of slaves. Therefore as a symbol of freedom, all Haitians, no matter where, drink pumpkin soup (Soup Joumou) every January first since 1804.
USA and IrelandIn the United States, pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. An orange fruit harvested in October, this nutritious and versatile plant features flowers, seeds and flesh that are edible and rich in vitamins. Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals. Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that originated hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Back then, however, jack-o’-lanterns were made out of turnips or potatoes; it wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin that a new Halloween ritual was born.
Pumpkin carving being associated with Halloween comes from a method used by the Celts to ward off evil spirits during Samuin (a festival where many of the traditions of Halloween come from). The Celts would hollow out turnips, then carve faces in them and place candles inside. The turnips were then either placed in the windows, to keep evil spirits from entering a home, or carried around as lanterns. This tradition eventually melded with the North American tradition of carving pumpkins. At this point, the carving of pumpkins, which had been around in North America before Halloween was popularly introduced, became associated almost exclusively with Halloween (around the 19th century).
Prepare the pumpkin for baking or soups
Check out my various recipes by clicking the links below
American Pumpkin Pie
Haitian Pumpkin Soup
Thai Pumpkin Custard Sankaya
Roasted pumpkin soup recipe
Roasted pumpkin seeds