Squash Town

cucurbita maxima

cucurbita maxima

This field near the Hotel Amalia (closed for the season already!) provides for a lot of squash. This giant variety, of which I count 32 in the photo, is popular on the island. To me this big squash doesn’t have much taste. People mash and cook the flesh with sugar to make kolokithopita. Though unblemished squash of this type can be stored whole over the winter, these giants will go bad once opened so they then need to be cooked and eaten or stored in pieces in the refrigerator (good) or frozen (best). The plants need room to sprawl so you will see this type growing in fields like the one above seemingly unattended. They also need time.

In Skopelos people also grow other Kolokithia – the familiar small green soft ones we know as zucchini/courgette (Cucurbita pepo var. cylindrica) which are best eaten soon after harvesting, and other harder varieties of small to medium size (Cucurbita moschata) like the butternut variety pictured below. Sweeter than the local giant cucurbita maxima, the butternut too can be stored whole many months over the winter outdoors or in a shed.

All are Cucurbitales (link), relatives of the cucumber (other plants as well). Some plant scientists say that squash originated in the new world (like the potato and tomato) and were brought back to Europe by the conquistadors. Others suggest that the squash may have been African in origin and fruit with seeds floated across the Atlantic to South America. Another theory is that the squash was Asian and brought to the new world over the Siberia/Alaska land bridge. South and Central America lay claim to the most varieties of squash, gourds and pumpkins.

Butternut (cucurbita moschato)

Butternut (cucurbita moschato)


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