Friday, June 4, 2010

Zucchini, the Kitchen Garden's Overachiever

Zucchini: the vegetable kingdom's answer to bratwurst.

There's a reason why you don't see much zucchini in the grocery's produce section. Those green sausages don't keep very well: and one gardening enthusiast can keep an entire neighborhood supplied for the summer.

I found out more than I planned to, about zucchini, doing research for Heather Fisk. Most of us know zucchini as something that the neighbor brings in a basket. Along with an apologetic 'could you take some of these?'

Zucchini started out in Central and South America, was brought as an exotic food to Europe, and took root in Italy. Our zucchini is a descendant of those transplanted Italian plants.

Zucchini is called courgette in French: and so is some yellow thing that's sort of like zucchini. They're now part of French cuisine. Which is like food, only more expensive.

Perhaps mercifully, zucchini is a relatively delicate plant. Frost can kill it, although the survivors generally produce more of those long green things. A zucchini can be two feet long and six inches across. The smaller ones taste better, though.

Don't misunderstand me: I like zucchini. And, thanks to the generosity of my neighbors, I've had opportunities to try most of the hundreds of zucchini recipes. Like blueberry zucchini bread, zucchini relish and zucchini pumpkin bread.

Which reminds me. Zucchinis can be crossed with pumpkins. Stan Parks is growing what he assures me is a small crop of the things. I'll probably see the first in a couple months.

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