By David Wall, Mount Pleasant Master Gardener
Sweet potatoes come from South America, and while regular potatoes are tubers or underground stems, sweet potatoes are actually roots. For any recipe that calls for apples, white potatoes or squash, you can substitute sweet potatoes. They have a 5,000-year history.
White potatoes also come from South America and have a 400+ year history. Today, they’re the number one side dish in restaurants. The French fry option was introduced by Thomas Jefferson while President. They were the first vegetable astronauts grew in outer space.
Pumpkins originally came from Central America and have a 7,000-year history. Size varies by type and care and can range from less than one pound to over 1,000. The origin of the pumpkin pie began with colonialists filling a gutted pumpkin with spices, honey and milk, and baked/roasted in hot ashes. The largest pumpkin pie weighed 350+ pounds and was more than 5′ in diameter.
Green beans apparently originated in Mexico some 7,000 years ago. Today, some 40 million casseroles are served every Thanksgiving.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts by our Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe, and apparently lasted for three days. Regardless of what we were told in history classes, there was no corn, let alone pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, bread, butter, or milk at this first Thanksgiving. While this may sound like a bland feast, the first feast is thought to have included eggs, carrots, cabbage, beans, onions, chestnuts, goat cheese, honey, rabbit, chicken, dried fruits, and even lobster!
Interestingly, Pilgrims didn’t have forks. Rather, they used spoons, knives, and their fingers! Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863, and the setting aside of the fourth Thursday of November to celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA was enacted by Congress in December 1941.
This year, some 46 million turkeys are expected to be sold for Thanksgiving.