LOS ANGELES — PUMPKIN PIE
The quintessential pie marries an indigenous American food already familiar to English colonists, thanks to the vegetable's introduction to Europe in the 1500s, with an economical English culinary tradition of filling crust with meat, vegetable or fruit. Colonists cultivated pumpkin from their earliest years in the New World, and English cookbooks featured pumpkin pie recipes from the 1600s.
The dessert did not often show up on Thanksgiving tables until the early 1800s, but by later in the century, pumpkin pies were so closely associated with the holiday that in 1869, the (Hartford) Connecticut Courant referred to the pie, along with turkey, as the "inevitable" Thanksgiving dishes. Lately this classic has been showing up in a new guise, thanks to one of the newest movements in American cuisine: Pumpkin pie has gone vegan. Vegan cookbooks, mainstream food magazines and grocery stores feature pies made with pumpkin, tofu (for structure) and the traditional spices, but no eggs, butter or milk: Influenced (often unknowingly) by the Buddhist religion's compassion for animals, vegans eschew eating animal products. English piemaking, a Central American vegetable, and an Asian religion meet in this new twist on an old American dessert.