“A gourd is the hollow, dried shell of a fruit in the plant family Cucurbitaceae, to which squash belong. There are edible gourds (squash), and those non-edible varieties used as vessels, musical instruments and for decor. Gourds are believed to be the earliest plant domesticated by man, in Africa, where they were used as bowls and bottles (they are still used today to drink yerba maté in South America). The rattling dried seeds inside enable gourds to be used as percussion instruments; even today, gourds are used as resonating chambers on certain stringed instruments and drums, especially in the Caribbean.”
“The avocado is also known as an alligator pear, because of its shape, green skin, and rough texture of the Haas variety. (The Florida avocado has a shiny, smooth surface.)”
“There are more than 80 varieties of avocados. The most common is the year-round Hass avocado, whose original mother tree still stands in California.”
“The obvious distinguishing feature of a yellow tomato is the color, which may be anywhere from an almost creamy yellow to bright, electric, school bus yellow, depending on the cultivar, the time of year, and when the tomato is harvested. Like their red cousins, they also come in an assortment of sizes, shapes, and flavors, from tiny sweet ones that can be used in salads to big yellow beefsteak tomatoes that are ideal for sauces.
The difference in color is not just superficial. The nutritional profile of these tomatoes is slightly different from that of red ones. Yellow tomatoes have lots of niacin and folate, less vitamin C, and less lycopene than red tomatoes. Perhaps most importantly, they are lower in acid than red tomatoes, and some companies have even developed almost acid-free varieties.”
Attack of the Squash People
And thus the people every year
in the valley of humid July
did sacrifice themselves
to the long green phallic god
and eat and eat and eat.
They’re coming, they’re on us,
the long striped gourds, the silky
babies, the hairy adolescents,
the lumpy vast adults
like the trunks of green elephants.
Recite fifty zucchini recipes!
Zucchini tempura; creamed soup;
sauté with olive oil and cumin,
tomatoes, onion; frittata;
casserole of lamb; baked
topped with cheese; marinated;
stuffed; stewed; driven
through the heart like a stake.
Get rid of old friends: they too
have gardens and full trunks.
Look for newcomers: befriend
them in the post office, unload
on them and run. Stop tourists
in the street. Take truckloads
to Boston. Give to your Red Cross.
Beg on the highway: please
take my zucchini, I have a crippled
mother at home with heartburn.
Sneak out before dawn to drop
them in other people’s gardens,
in baby buggies at churchdoors.
Shot, smuggling zucchini into
mailboxes, a federal offense.
With a suave reptilian glitter
you bask among your raspy
fronds sudden and huge as
alligators. You give and give
too much, like summer days
limp with heat, thunderstorms
bursting their bags on our heads,
as we salt and freeze and pickle
for the too little to come.
“The cucumber is listed among the foods of ancient Ur, and the legend of Gilgamesh describes people eating cucumbers. Some sources also state it was produced in ancient Thrace, and it is certainly part of modern cuisine in Bulgaria and Turkey, parts of which make up that ancient state. From India, it spread to Greece (where it was called “σίκυον”, síkyon) and Italy (where the Romans were especially fond of the crop), and later into China.”
“The confusion about ‘fruit’ and ‘vegetable’ arises because of the differences in usage between scientists and cooks. Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower, and contain the seeds of the plant (though cultivated forms may be seedless). Blueberries, raspberries, and oranges are true fruits, and so are many kinds of nut. Some plants have a soft part which supports the seeds and is also called a ‘fruit’, though it is not developed from the ovary: the strawberry is an example.”
“As far as cooking is concerned, some things which are strictly fruits, such as tomatoes or bean pods, may be called ‘vegetables’ because they are used in savoury rather than sweet cooking. The term ‘vegetable’ is more generally used of other edible parts of plants, such as cabbage leaves, celery stalks, and potato tubers, which are not strictly the fruit of the plant from which they come. Occasionally the term ‘fruit’ may be used to refer to a part of a plant which is not a fruit, but which is used in sweet cooking: rhubarb, for example.”
“Broccoli a result of careful breeding of cultivated leafy cole crops in the Northern Mediterranean in about the 6th century BCE. Since the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a uniquely valuable food among Italians. Broccoli was brought to England from Antwerp in the mid-18th century by Peter Scheemakers. Broccoli was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants but did not become widely known there until the 1920s.”