The History of Zucchini
Summer squashes, as well a winter squashes, are native to the Americas and belong to the family of curcurbita. Archaeologists have traced their origins to Mexico, dating back from 7,000 to 5,500 BCE, when they were an integral part of the ancient diet of maize, beans, and squashes. That pre-Columbian food trio is still the mainstay of the Mexican cuisine and is known today as the “three sisters.”
Explorers Bring Zucchini and Squash Back to Europe as Part of Zucchini History
Many explorers who came to the Americas brought back what they considered strange foods. The zucchini eventually found its way to Italy where it was named zucchino. Many names have been given to this squash. The French call it courgette, a name that has been adopted by the English. The English also refer to a variety that is slightly larger and plumper as marrow.
Colonists Play Part in the History of Zucchini
The colonists of New England adopted the name squash, a word derived from several Native American words for the vegetable which meant “something eaten raw.” George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were squash enthusiasts who even enjoyed growing them.
What the heck is a curcurbita pepo?
Zucchinis are considered the tender, sweet, immature fruit of the curcurbita pepo which is eaten in its entirety. If left on the vine or bush longer, the fruit becomes enormous, the seeds larger, tougher, and sometimes inedible, and the flavor less sweet. Cocozelle, a variety of zucchini that originated in Italy, is shorter, plumper, and striped. Today’s farmers are developing hybrids that are a visual delight. Some are round, some are yellow, some a combination of green and yellow, and some are a cross between zucchini and the fluted patty pan squash.
Zucchini has invaded all aspects of popular US culture:
Big Zucchini recommends the following Zucchini cookbooks: