Cucuzzi in the evening.
Cucuzzi in the morning.
Because this vine is an edible gourd, it takes the same rich soil, water, and heat that garden squashes do. But its flowers are more delicate, and, like all gourds, white-at least in the evening, when it first opens and gives you a chance to inhale a fresh, gentle fragrance. If you plant them by your door, as I did, they can greet you coming home from work. By morning, they’ve turned a gentle pale tan.
Cucuzzi seeds are different from squash seeds, too: more or less rectangular, with stubby little antennae on each end.
Unlike squash, the smaller leaves of cucuzzi won’t overpower everything else.
In fact, I think they mix quite fetchingly with these Oriental lilies. (I’m a sucker for tendrils.)
I first heard about cucuzzi in The 20-Minute Gardener, Tom Christopher and Marty Asher’s treatise on how not to let gardening take over your life. Gardeners who take things too seriously should be laid in a hammock with this book and a nice glass of lemon balm iced tea.
The only bad thing about The 20-Minute Gardener is that it lacks an index, so I must flip through page after page to find the entry. And after some flipping, I did find one, but not one with the recipe I remembered. Oh well.
These Italian-bred young gourds can be eaten like summer squash. Rumor has it that they are even more flavorful than regular summer squash, but so far I’ve had only male flowers, so I can’t report. I am happy to find a vine that looks as if it’s going over the top of my trellis-shade, fragrant flowers, and fruit all in one season.
And I really like my garden chair.
Tom Christopher and Marty Asher, The 20-Minute Gardener, Random House, 1997
JL Hudson – you can get cucuzzi seeds here.