Cucurbitaceae – Cucumbers and Squash

This is what I get for applying all this fancy book learnin’ to real life. Now I have to address a food that I’ve been dreading…Those foods found in the Cucurbitaceae family. This would include those items which fall into the “gourd” family. I, as a rule of thumb, have not made a habit out of eating anything which could also be used as a musical instrument.

This, undoubtedly, makes me a bad person.

Sure, sure, there are cucumbers I can look forward to, even if they are now at the tail end of their growing season. I have nothing against the majority of melons either, although the name “muskmelon” has been known to make me all wobbly. Luckily for me, muskmelons (also known as cantaloupe) weren’t domesticated until roughly 2400 BC. Since I’m still roughly at 5000 BC in my exploration of various food stuffs, there’s still plenty to explore between then and now.

No, it’s the squash that has me all atwitter. There’s the summer squashes, with its zucchini. I can handle that. I suppose it’s the winter squashes, native to North America, which I have intentionally avoided for most of my life. Excluding all pastries pumpkin related (pies and breads and such), I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve volunteered to eat these brutes.

Part of the reason for my skittishness is the name….squash. It gives such violent imagery to a fruit (and yes, technically, they are fruits) that seems to rot if you just give it a dirty look. The other reason they bug me is that they look so alien to me, what with their odd colorings (oranges and yellows) and their pod-like appearance. Have I mentioned that Invasion of the Body Snatchers scared the bejesus out of me when I was a child? Perhaps this is the source of my apprehension to squash.

I do, however, find it interesting that squash is one of the three crops that helped sustain the native American population for 2000 years prior to the Western Europeans arriving. Along with maize and beans, these three products were usually planted together, with the cornstalk providing support for the climbing beans, and shade for the squash. The squash vines provided groundcover to limit weeds. Hows that for efficient agricultural engineering?

I will soldier on, as is my dictate to this site. Expect three cucumber recipes to offset three squash recipes…with pumpkin pie as a dessert.


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