Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) are one of many squashes classified as â€œsummer squashesâ€ that possess a thin skin and a high water content. This would distinguish them from the â€œwinter squashesâ€ with thicker skins and denser meats. Often referred to as â€œcourgettesâ€ in Europe and other English influenced locales, the Italian term zucchini is derived from zucca or â€œgourd.â€ Zucchini is arguably the more correct term as it is generally agreed that the Italians were the first to actively raise and eat this vegetable. Courgette or small Courge or marrow seems to have gained use after the Italians startedâ€¦ Zucchini is the terminology used in the U.S. as it was introduced by Italian immigrants in the early 20th century. A mild, watery vegetable, the zucchini is extremely easy to grow and thrives in the Philippines. It is one of the first new â€œwesternâ€ vegetables to be grown here in the early 1990â€™s (I am considering, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. to be relatively ancientâ€¦). I like zucchini because it is easy to cook, absorbs different flavors, it is relatively cheap and I guess, reasonably nutritious given the nice dark green skin. When fresh, the skin is a vibrant green, it is firm and weighty for its size.
There are several kinds of zucchini but the specimens photographed here are the most common ones I have noticed in Manila markets. I also love the golden zucchinis but they are not as readily available. This vegetable is great when steamed and buttered, baked with tomatoes and onions, stir-fried and added in other dishes. Many eons ago I had very fine long strips of zucchini dipped in a thin batter and deep fried until crisp. This was served very hot with a sprinkling of salt and if you likes some vinegar. It was absolutely delicious. Maybe I should try to replicate that recipe one day. Always try to get super fresh zucchini, and donâ€™t leave it in your fridge for too long, as it tends to get bitter with age! Zucchini flowers also taste delicious.