[Sca-cooks] Lagenaria was Is Zuccnini Marrow?

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sat Aug 22 10:04:38 PDT 2009

> Zucchini, on the other hand, is sometimes known as vegetable marrow, and 
> is a New World plant, or the descendant of a New World plant. It may have 
> made it's way to Europe in the 16th c. (Bear usually has the details of 
> this sort of info :-)

What?  You mean I've collected those odd little facts such as vegetable 
marrows are all of New World origin, that they are closely related to 
zucchini and that there is question as to whether zucchini originated in the 
New World or is a north Italian hybrid.  Those little details?  One point 
from Davidson's The Oxford Companion to Food, zucchini did not become 
popular until the early 20th Century.

> I have discovered that medieval white flower gourds are available locally 
> (to me), where they are called by their Pilipino name, opo. I've never 
> been a big fan of zucchini, but i really like the flavor and texture of 
> opo, white flower gourd.
> So you could use zucchini in any medieval recipe that calls for young 
> gourd. But zucchini is much wetter than white flower gourd, so you may 
> have to adjust the cooking time and the amount of liquid in the recipe.
> -- 
> Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

Lagenaria siceraria var. calavata (IIRC), which have the zucchini shaped 
gourds that run between 6 and 36 inches and are the ones commonly displayed 
in various Medieval drawings.  I'll add your cooking notes to my, ah, 

Just to add to an earlier but related thread, to which I have not yet seen a 

> >When I run the Old World/New World game, cooks playing the game and I get 
> >into the discussion of which food was the easiest sell. Answer:  the one 
> >that closely resembled what they already had.  IE, turkeys for bustards, 
> >pumpkins for pompions.
> What "pompions" are you thinking of? The old world gourd I'm familiar 
> with, lageneria, is more like a squash than a pumkin, at least in the 
> varieties I've found.
> -- 
> David/Cariadoc

To my knowledge, Lagenaria is the taxonomic name of genus with at least six 
species.  In English, the word is used in adjective form, lagenarial, to 
describe elongated, flask-like curcubits.  The particular species of Old 
World gourd to which David is referring is L. siceraria, the bottle gourds. 
Most of the other species (except possibly L. sphaerica) are believed to 
have been confined to Africa until recently.

While the bottle gourds are often flask-like, shapes include bulbous ends, 
snake-like, stacked bulbs, and spherical, so while L. siceraria may more 
often look like a squash than a pumpkin, the shape can not be ruled out.  If 
L. sphaerica were available, then their fruit, which is commonly round, 
might be referred to as "pumpkins."

Pompion derives from pepon.  Pepon can be defined as a round melon, gourd or 
squash.  The English definition is at odds with the Latin root which would 
have described an elongated ground fruit.  My copy of the OED places the 
first written use of the term, pompion, in 1545, which makes the change in 
spelling and usage contemporous with the discovery and spread of the New 
World cucurbits.  There is not enough evidence to determine whether 
contemporaneity is casual or causal.


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