20 Mar2007

Stunning Gourds

by Marketman


I have always been drawn to nature’s genetic whackos (produce wise, that is). There is something so unpredictable about fruits and vegetables that all get bastardized on gourd2the whim of a bee, the strength of the prevailing winds, the poop of a small foraging animal or the interference of humans in a college laboratory. I am not even sure if these attractive and unusual gourds are the result of such a genetic muttiness, but if they aren’t, they certainly should be. When I was studying in New England, pumpkins were an absolute must around the late fall, and if you had access to a car, you could go to farms a few miles away from the city and pick your own, from a tiny 5 kilo specimen to a gigantic 20 kilo or more. Making their appearance at about the same time were tiny decorative gourds similar to these. Used in Fall or Thanksgiving Holiday centerpieces or arrangements or massed in baskets for visual interest, they could be had for a few cents a piece and I usually had a couple on my desk throughout the Fall semester…I just thought their shape, color, texture, etc. were really interesting.

So you can imagine my surprise when I spotted a lot of these gourds at the Salcedo market last Saturday, from the same vendor that I purchased the Cadena de Amor several weeks gourd3ago. This is the first time I have seen them for sale in Manila. They were “out of season,” certainly, but locally grown and well, I just couldn’t resist, if only for the nostalgia from 20+ years ago in a tiny dorm room in New England. I promptly selected about a 15+ gourds which totaled about 3 kilos worth and paid a fairly pricey PHP200 a kilo for them. However, they should last an incredibly long time as they will dry up and retain their color, making them a very economical decorative item if you don’t mind staring at them for the next few months… I wonder if they will make it to this year’s Halloween or Thanksgiving Dinner…



  1. tulip says:

    Suprisingly indeed. Warty gourds are rare but these varieties might like you said, genetically influenced, must be rarer. I suspect, it is a cross pollination with a pure gourd and a warty one. I wonder what you’ll be doing with it. Perhaps decorative vases?

    Mar 20, 2007 | 2:37 pm


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  3. jo says:

    Oh they are stunning indeed and yes they do last. I have a few sitting on my dining table. They look as good as when I purchased them last November.

    Mar 20, 2007 | 3:34 pm

  4. sister says:

    You might consider lacquer if you want to preserve them for Thanksgiving.

    Mar 20, 2007 | 9:23 pm

  5. Maria Clara says:

    I have a basketful of them in my kitchen counter top since mid-October 2006. The only thing I do – dust them off once a month. They are still intact no sign of rotting as of yet knock on wood! I buy them for visual effect never cook or bake with them to welcome the change of the season in my house.

    Mar 21, 2007 | 12:13 am

  6. stef says:

    you can carve them, you know, the insides i mean. there are lots of crafts that you can make with warty, “disfigured” gourds. this is the second year i’m trying to grow an heirloom warty variety — galeux d’eysines — but not for crafts, for eating:D. warty gourds are much-prized in heirloom seed saver circles. i don’t know about the ones you have though, they may be hybrid.

    you might enjoy this:

    Mar 21, 2007 | 3:33 am

  7. danney says:

    Since we have so much squash or calabasas in the Philippines, is there a way that we can convert it into powder for mass production and use as a thickening powder or soups or dessert or serve as on alternative to rice like mashed potato? Same with corn, sweet potato, ube and cassava (get rid of the poison first). We need to find cheap alternatives that will sustain good health and affordable food for everyone.

    Mar 21, 2007 | 9:11 am

  8. CecileJ says:

    Danney, have you tried haleyang calabasa? Cooked the same way as haleyang ube. Tastes yummy!

    Mar 21, 2007 | 9:39 am

  9. timmy says:

    i just came back from thailand. i saw an arrangement of these pumpkins in gaysorn mall. these beautiful pumpkins were arranged in large roman urns and had nothing but leaves that resembled our local espada. They were arranged in such a way that they’re not only useful during holloween but whole year through.

    Mar 21, 2007 | 12:30 pm

  10. danney says:

    Cecil, thank you so much for the haleyang calabasa idea. Do you have a recipe? I have a recipe for calabasa leche plan that I got from a nice lady blogger last year.

    Mar 21, 2007 | 11:47 pm

  11. CecileJ says:

    danney, i will hunt up the recipe. I have it in my recipe box somewhere… But i think its made basically the same way as haleyang ube…with condensed milk, butter and lots of stirring! (When I find the recipe, i’ll post it)

    Mar 23, 2007 | 9:48 am


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