October 31, 2011

Pumpkin patch in Culver City

For Halloween, it's good to remember that pumpkins are a Native product:

Pumpkins Are Native However You Carve ItAmerican Indians first introduced pumpkin as a food to immigrants when they encountered the Spanish at the Rio Grande River in the late 1500s, offering the Spaniards pumpkin seeds as part of a peace offering, according to LocalHarvest.org.

American Indians roasted, baked, parched, boiled and dried the flesh in numerous ways. Each tribe developed its own ways to prepare and enjoy the pumpkin. DinĂ© cooks fry it with mutton, while Taos Pueblo cooks make a succotash by cooking unripe pumpkin with corn kernels and onion. In Woodland areas, pumpkin is eaten similarly to winter squash, occasionally cut into rings to dry and be reconstituted when needed. Read Indian Country Today Media Network’s food writer Dale Carson’s article about how Indigenous peoples have enjoyed the sunset-colored gourd for centuries.

As a medicine, American Indians used pumpkins as a remedy for snake bites. Pumpkin had other practical uses—many tribes flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats, especially for trading purposes. They also dried out the pumpkins’ shells, turning them into bowls and containers to store grain, beans and seeds, states allaboutpumpkins.com.
For a couple of weeks, my town hosted a "pumpkin patch" in a supermarket parking lot. I went there last week and took pictures:

"It's the Great Pumpkin, Facebook!"--October 27-28, 2011

Not only is the pumpkin a Native product, but the indigenous people of the Andes domesticated the llama and alpaca in the petting zoo. So the whole place was infused with a Native background, though no one realized it.

For more on the subject, see Indians in Culver City.

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