Pumpkins and Squashes: Evolution in an American Family’s Folk Food

Presentation by
Aggie “The Tomato Lady” Nehmzow

Podcast courtesy of WBEZ’s Chicago Amplified

Last October on a sunny day with puffy clouds arranged gloriously across the horizon, three generation of Nehmzow women set out for Heap’s Giant Pumpkin Farm. Our mission was threefold: culinary, decorative and diversity. Our repertoire of folk food, food of the common man, was in transition from its Adriatic European roots. The mission of our ancestors was to escape peasant life. From the second to the fourth generations later, there is escaping to farms. We shun the technology that produces canned pumpkin and fabricated decorations. At Heap’s the task of the moment was aesthetic with criteria as to contrasts in shape, color and size. However, tantamount to choices, the majority of the selections had to be of culinary use. The farm staff guided “The team” in finalizing a sizeable purchase numerous in varieties.

In the months to come, the team proceeded to researching and recording, plus preparing and presenting their cache of pumpkins and squashes for everyday and holiday use. There will be several varieties of pumpkin and squashes on display as well as samples of our folk cookery for tasting. Recipes will be available.

Aggie Nehmzow, aka “Tomato Lady,” is the 68-year-young matriarch of the Nehmzow women and an avid organic gardener. Aggie’s sights are global. She promotes heirloom gardening as active participation in the diversity of the world’s seed banks. Her immediate folk food task is the research and creation of baby food, which will include nutritious squash for her great granddaughter, Audrey.

Program hosted at Kendall College.