[Sca-cooks] pumpkins and squashes

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Mon Jul 21 20:03:02 PDT 2008

> Again, as a guess, this was a replacement for sweet potato pie which  is 
> an
> Elizabethan treat and probably not generally available in Virginia at 
> that
> time.  >>>
> Ah, okay. Sweet potato would be much closer to the texture/processing  of 
> a pumpkin pie. I'm somewhat surprised though that sweet potato  would be 
> common enough in England that the colonists would have been  aware of it, 
> yet not be growing it in the colonies.

Presumably Catherine of Aragon introduced Henry Tudor to sweet potatoes.  I 
haven't found any references to prove that point, but it is reasonable. That 
would give an initial introduction date between 1509 and 1533.  There is 
proof that John Hawkins ate sweet potatoes around 1550 and Francis Drake 
talks of eating them shortly after.  Since the first English colony did not 
land in Virginia until 1854 (and Jamestown is 1607), we're talking a minimum 
of 30 years of introduction to the sweet potato.  By the end of the 16th 
Century, they were known widely enough to be referenced in a couple of 
Shakespeare's plays.

England's sweet potatoes were imports initially.  Cultivation was attempted 
in Elizabeth's reign, but I haven't encountered any information on the 
success of the venture.

Pumpkin pie might also derive from a gourd pie, but I don't recall any 
examples of a gourd pie recipe.

> <<< Also, you are being far to restrictive in your idea of pie.  You 
> appear to
> be assuming a dessert, where as pie in the Elizabethan usage may be an
> intergral part of the meal and not necessarily sweet. >>>
> No. I was thinking more of texture and processing rather than sweet/ 
> savory. Although all the pumpkin pies I've eaten have been sweet. I  guess 
> with added sugar.  Did these Elizabethan sweet potato pies tend  to be 
> savory then, rather than sweet?

To my knowledge, Elizabethean sweet potato pies were sweet, using the 
natural sweetness of the sweet potato and adding sugar and spices similar to 
those used in pumpkin pie.

> <<< I've made artichoke
> pie and within easy reach I have Elizabethan recipes for eel and  onion 
> pie,
> apple and orange pie, and olive pie.  The olives in olive pie are  slices 
> of
> stuffed meat. >>>
> None of these, I think, end up with a custardy, well chopped/pureed 
> filling. They are all larger chunks and pieces. I thought oranges  were 
> more of a Spanish item during Elixabethan times. So oranges,  perhaps the 
> non-sweet ones, were available in England? And these  Elizabethan apple 
> and orange pies were savory, not sweet?
> Stefan

You are assuming that Elizabethean pumpkin pie was custardy, why?   Without 
a recipe, we can only speculate as to how the filling was made, but consider 
that cooking the pumpkin and mashing it, then baking it with wine, sugar and 
spice would produce a soft, but not necessarily smooth filling tghat has no 
relationship to custard.

A lot of spices came to Elizabethan England from the Lisbon spice market 
until 1594, when it was closed to traders from Protestant nations.  Oranges 
became relatively plentiful because of the trade.

The apple and orange pies were sweet.


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