This Thursday (Nov 22) will be Thanksgiving Day and Americans will be eating turkey or ham for dinner. The traditional meat is turkey but a lot of people prefer ham. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner is; turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, egg noodles, a vegetable, and pumpkin pie. The traditional ham dinner consists of ham, mashed potatoes, candied yams, vegetable, and pumpkin pie.
As you have probably noted "pumpkin" pie is the dessert most preferred for the Thanksgiving holiday. This is because the Indians introduced the Pilgrims to squash especially pumpkins which the pilgrims could use in many different ways. A pumpkin can be cooked and made into a custard, a pie filling, baked and sweetened with brown sugar for a dessert, the seeds can be dried and eaten as a snack. Sometimes the seeds are salted and stored to eaten as a snack later in the year. The important thing to remember is that a pumpkin has a lot of seeds so there are always enough seeds left to plant the next year.
There are two types of pumpkin. The pie pumpkin is used in cooking. It has a thicker pulp than the field pumpkin. The pie pumpkin is normally smaller in size that the field pumpkin which is often a very large pumpkin. The field pumpkin is used during Halloween to make "Jack O Lantern" cut outs. The seeds can be used the same as the pie pumpkin and make an excellent snack. The field pumpkin is raised to be used to feed cattle. A few field pumpkin plants can furnish a lot of fodder for cattle and is cheap to raise. The field pumpkin grows almost anywhere but does great in wet and damp ground.
When the Pilgrims came to American they would have starved if not for the Indians who taught them how to plant corn and squash. They taught them how to make "maize" and flour from corn. They raised squash and showed them how to use the squash for food. They showed them how to gather wild potatoes and onions as well as herbs to enhance their meals. They taught the Pilgrims how to hunt turkeys and other game. The Pilgrims weren't familiar within this new country. That is why American try to stick to turkey for Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie for dessert.