Regional differences are inevitable of course, and the food writer Clementine Paddleford claimed to have summarized them in the 1950’s when she said, ‘Tell me where your grandmother came from and I can tell you how many kinds of pie you serve for Thanksgiving.’ If she was from the Mid-west, Ms Paddleford said, there would be two types (mince and pumpkin), if from New England, three (mince, pumpkin, cranberry), Boston, four (mince, pumpkin, cranberry and apple).
- Janet Clarkson. Pie: A Global History p.79.
If you’re from Plymouth, you would also have Indian Pudding, and the cranberry pie might have raisins in it and go by the name of Mock-Cherry. And you might also have a Chicken Pie, and if you have good friends who are great historical cooks, you could even be lucky enough to have Marleborough Pudding, which is actually an apple pie PLUS….and now, back to pumpkins.
There aren’t all that many pumpkin (pompion ) pie recipes in English cookbooks in the 17th century. This is one of the earliest AND easiest. It is also an English translation of a French recipe and it will be another 2 years before there is an English recipe. The first English recipe for pumpkin pie is from the cook of the Queen, Henrietta Maria, who is….French.
Tourte of pumpkin.
Boile it with good milk, pass it through a straining pan very thick, and mix it with sugar, butter, a little salt and if you will, a few stamped almonds; let all be very thin. Put it in your sheet of paste; bake it. After it is baked, besprinkle it with sugar and serve.”
- Francois Pierre La Varenne. The French Cook , Translated into English in 1653 by I.D.G., Introduced by Philip and Mary Hyman [East Sussex: Southover Press} 2001 (p. 199-200)
Bring out your pompions and let the sugar be-sprinkling begin!