Pumpkin history, food featured Tuesday

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Author Cindy Ott, the National Park Service and the Grant House will provide pumpkin-based food and history Tuesday.

Ott will discuss her new book — "Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon" — at 6 p.m. at the historic restaurant, 1101 Officers Row.

While Ott's presentation is free, diners will be able to order a four-course meal for $29 featuring several pumpkin-inspired recipes.

Reservations are required: call 360-906-1101.

Ott will discuss why Americans drive for miles each fall to buy a vegetable they're unlikely to eat.

While people around the world eat pumpkin throughout the year, most Americans reserve it for holiday pies and other desserts, and Halloween decorating. Towns hold festivals featuring giant pumpkins and carving contests, even though few have historic ties to the crop.

Ott tells how Americans have used the pumpkin to fulfill their desire to maintain connections to nature and to the traditional family farm, and how small farms have been revitalized.

Ott is an assistant professor in the American Studies Department at St. Louis University and a National Park Service consultant.

Hardcover copies of the book will be available for $30 cash, check or credit.

Soldiers at Fort Vancouver planted gardens with traditional American plants like pumpkins to supplement the spartan Army diet, said Cassie Anderson, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site ranger.