We’ve all heard the phrase “As American as Apple Pie.” It is true that America really did embrace apple pie and make it her own, but, it’s not really American in origin at all. Kind of a bummer, I know, to think that America’s favorite pie isn’t exactly American. But it’s true. Not even apples are American. Why else would the Johnny Appleseed legend exist?
The English brought their apple pie recipes with them to the new world. And, so did the Dutch..you know, as in “Dutch Apple Pie.” Still, don’t despair, because America has at least one pie (actually we have more than one) that really is American: Pumpkin pie.
Americans Invented the Pumpkin Pie as We Know It
Who doesn’t look forward to pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving? Some of use even repeat the pleasure at Christmas. While it’s true that no pumpkins, nor pumpkin pie, was served at the “first Thanksgiving” the first sweet pumpkin pies were served in the New England as early as the late 1700’s and were common by 1800’s.
Pumpkin had been used in English pies as an ingredient, but these were nothing like our pumpkin pie. Look to American Cookery by Amelia Simmons for an idea of a typical pumpkin pie recipe from those days. Her “pompkin puddings” were actually what we would call a pie, and baked in crusts.
There had been “pumpkin pie” recipes before this, but they really bore no resemblance to what we call pumpkin pie. For example, there is a book by Mrs. Silvester Gardiner, with a pumpkin pie recipe made with layered apple and raw pumpkin, “well-sugared,” placed under a crust. This was pretty much a deep-dish apple pie with pumpkin chunks added, and nothing dissimilar to what you may have found in Europe. But pumpkin made into a custard and baked in a crust, that is American.