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Chinese Vegetables Illustrated


liuzhou

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I understand that in China (it used to be) sweet potatoes and corn were low class food, mostly fed to pigs. So was truffle (the mushroom) were fed to pigs.

 

BTW, everything, every vegetable eaten in China is for medicinal purposes. Every mother is a herbal doctor.

 

dcarch

 

 

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I'm curious about the corn also. In some countries it is animal fodder. The varieties are the starchy ones versus the almost too sweet one favored in the US. I know you don't think it worthy of eating but do you know where the common cobs on offer fall on that scale?  I think Mexicn street corn is heavily to starchy end so all the add-ons make sense.  https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/07/mexican-street-corn-elotes-recipe.html

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4 hours ago, heidih said:

I know you don't think it worthy of eating but do you know where the common cobs on offer fall on that scale?

 

I'm told the white ones are starchy and the yellow on the sweet side, but perhaps not as sweet as the ones you describe as " almost too sweet ".

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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My mother-in-law said  the way to treat corn is to have a pot of water boiling before you go into the garden to pick the  corn.  Pick, shuck and toss in the pot.  She never committed as to how long to let the corn boil.  As a Californian, she didn't consider me worthy of that family secret.  Me,

I let the pot come back to a boil, turn it off, cover it and let the corn steep for about 15 minutes.  Oh, my own secret is to add sugar, not salt to the water.  End of hijack. 

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I do enjoy the various methods of cooking corn

 

I did grow a few at one point

 

those newer ones not older

 

w the two enzymes removed that turn the sugars in regular corn into starch

 

one enzyme / type

 

Picked just right , tender and corn-y juicy 

 

Id eat them in the garden , warm from the sun.

 

but well , Ive been told Im Odd

 

a great compliment

 

a certain % of the time.

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Nelumbo nucifera

 

Trust the Chinese to invent a vegetable custom designed to be eaten with chopsticks. Well, part of it anyway.

 

The whole plant is edible and it has one of the most beautiful flowers. This baby is just outside my countryside home.

 

lianhua.thumb.jpg.50932d5987b7f2fe8bf1459a6b07e61a.jpg

 

We are talking about the lotus plant, (Mand: lián; Cant: lin4). Everything you can see is edible and so is everything you can't.

 

The most used part is what is commonly referred to as 'lotus root', but is actually the rhizome of the plant. These are found in the sticky mud at the bottom of the pond. Extracting them is difficult, filthy manual labour. In Chinese, they are 莲藕 (Mand: lián ǒu; Cant: lin4 ngau5), although often only the final character is used, especially on menus.

 

1363065089_LotusRoot.thumb.jpg.860d34e41b8e3116eb2841aff6c39fed.jpg

 

These are usually sliced and fried (stir or deep fry) , steamed or boiled in soups and hot pots. They are also boiled with sugar syrup to make desserts. They are used in Chinese style "salads". Although they are edible raw, it is not advised to eat them that way as they are prone to infection by parasites which are killed even with light cooking. Anyway, the Chinese eat very little raw.

 

105153005_LotusRoot5.thumb.jpg.8a46464f15386c18f2e08d619f983bbc.jpg

The holes make picking up cooked slices with chopsticks easy.

 

2113547857_Lotusrootsalad.thumb.jpg.5c766f552743de797732100fc937825f.jpg

Spicy Lotus Root "Salad"

 

A more refined dish is to cut chunks, stuff the holes with meat etc. and deep fry them.

 

The starchy rhizomes are also dried and ground to make a flour used as a thickening agent for sauces etc.

 

When in season, the seed pods, 莲蓬 (Mand: lián péng; Cant: lin4 fung4) are sold on the streets for you to extract and eat the seeds, 莲子 (Mand: lián zi; Cant: lin4 zi2). I posted about them back in 2012. See here.

Finally, although the leaves and flowers are edible and used in Japan and Korea, I've never seen them used here in China, although the flower stamens are used to make 'lotus flower tea', 莲花茶 (Mand: lián huā chá; Cant: lin4 faa1 caa4).

 

lianhua2.thumb.jpg.4675caa179048c5199b1605677f6b4a1.jpg

 

Exit singing that old Gershwin hit:

 

I've got rhizome; I've got lotus....

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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Any idea  if you drop a commercially available lotus root back into some mud will it grow? Are they usually viable, like potatoes?  Are the commercial cultivars as pretty as your picture there?  I'm kinda feeling the urge to swing by my local asian market to grab some lotus root and experiment.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I was studying the science of non-sticky-ness, and came across the scientific term "the lotus effect". Basically the water repellent property of some materials is similar to the waterlily (lotus) leaves.

 

You will notice that in Buddhism, deities often sit on lotus leaves.because lotus symbolizes purity. It rises  in muddy waters and in dirt and can still remain elegant, pure and clean, Lotus is high respected.

 

Lotus seeds can be viable for hundreds of years. Some one grew a lotus plant from a 1,400 year old seed.

I had grown an old seed in a bucket and it germinated and gave me a nice beautiful flower.

 

dcrch

 

 

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14 hours ago, cdh said:

Any idea  if you drop a commercially available lotus root back into some mud will it grow? Are they usually viable, like potatoes?  Are the commercial cultivars as pretty as your picture there?  I'm kinda feeling the urge to swing by my local asian market to grab some lotus root and experiment.

 

This is from the dreaded Wikipedia, but the sources cited seem reliable.

 

Quote

...  lotus  grows in water up to 2.5 m (8 ft). The minimum water depth should not be lower than 30 cm (12 in). In colder climates such a low water level, which heats up more quickly, is helpful for better growth and flowering. Lotus germinates at temperatures above 13 °C (55 °F). Most varieties are not cold-hardy. In the growing season from April to September (northern hemisphere), the average daytime temperature needed is 23 to 27 °C (73 to 81 °F). In regions with low light levels in winter, the sacred lotus has a period of dormancy. The tubers are not cold resistant, but can resist temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) if they are covered with an insulating cover of water or soil. During winter time, the roots have to be stored at a frost free place.[

 

Also, the flowers I posted are from commercially cultivated plants.

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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A friend, who lives a few blocks up the streets from me has lotus plants in an artificial pond she got from a nursery in Apex, NC. She got the lotus plants there too, and they are so very beautiful. I do not know how these plants might fare further north where it gets a lot colder. I love the flowers. So pretty!

 

I have to say that the lotus root we get here is canned and pretty bad, like the canned water chestnuts that are widely available. I once got fresh water chestnuts at the pan-Asian grocer that went out of business near my home, and they have put me off the canned ones forever. I will say, that if you're in my area, we can get jicama here and it is a good substitute for fresh water chestnut, that has only been available to me once in my long life.

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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For the next few posts, we are going to be worshipping at the temple of the great god

 

 

gua.thumb.jpg.2eb8b737675d1aa66cdd6463b942d1f5.jpgguā

guā (Mand: guā; Cant: gwaa1) is a multi-purpose Chinese word covering all gourds, squashes and melons. It does not differentiate between what we think of as fruits or vegetables. All types of melon are , as are pumpkins etc. (Yes, I know. Technically, they are all fruits.)

 

First up, I'm going to start with one of the easiest.

 

黄瓜 (Mand: huáng guā; Cant: wong4 gwaa1) literally means 'yellow gua'. It is Cucumis sativus, the plain old cucumber. What makes them yellow, I have no idea.

 

Cucumber.thumb.jpg.df35f756df13bd10d4835aac3ae66287.jpg

 

These are widely used in Chinese cuisine, but seldom raw. They are usually cooked, if even for only a few seconds. There are a number of Chinese "salads" using cucumber, but even in most of those the cuke is heated through at the very least.

 

One exception is the Sichuan classic, smacked cucumbers. Recipes galore online.

 

703510823_Smackedcucumber.thumb.jpg.d4572c09e97e4b961feecaa66060cbe5.jpg

Smacked cucumber

 

In this salad from a supermarket salad bar, though, the cucumber has been briefly cooked.

 

1537142952_Cucumbersalad.thumb.jpg.48d1e5b6727bbc9478997e8fc918fbcf.jpg

 

We also get these. Usually described as 白黄瓜 (Mand: bái huáng guā; Cant: baak6 wong4 gwaa1), literally white cucumber. I have also seen them as 果黄瓜 (Mand: guǒ huáng guā; Cant: gwo2 wong4 gwaa1), fruit cucumber, but less frequently.

 

baihuanggua.thumb.jpg.a4e896ff079eef7435b1fbb007c8eed0.jpg

The more bulbous ones at the top of the picture. The thinner ones are something else I'll get to later.

 

1407770748_Fruitcucumber.thumb.jpg.d20c65e880b0fe4e69b5d80c1bcfe733.jpg

 

They do have a whiter flesh and taste a little sweeter. Otherwise, the same.

 

Pickled cucumber is also widely available as are miniature cucumbers for either eating or pickling yourself.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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53 minutes ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

I have to say that the lotus root we get here is canned and pretty bad, like the canned water chestnuts that are widely available. I once got fresh water chestnuts at the pan-Asian grocer that went out of business near my home, and they have put me off the canned ones forever. I will say, that if you're in my area, we can get jicama here and it is a good substitute for fresh water chestnut, that has only been available to me once in my long life.

 

Canned vegetables always suck*. If you can't get fresh, do without, is my motto. It is very noticeable in supermarkets in China that there is no canned goods section. The very idea of canned vegetables would be ridiculous to a Chinese shopper.

We have jicama here, too. I'll get to that in time. I agree it can be a substitute in texture terms; less sure about in taste.

 

*Only honourable exception - French petits pois.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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12 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

Canned vegetables always suck*. If you can't get fresh, do without, is my motto. It is very noticeable in supermarkets in China that there is no canned goods section. The very idea of canned vegetables would be ridiculous to a Chinese shopper.

We have jicama here, too. I'll get to that in time. I agree it can be a substitute in texture terms; less sure about in taste.

 

*Only honourable exception - French petits pois.

 

Except, according to David McCullough, at the dining table of the American embassy during the siege of Paris.

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

Whatever you crave, there's a dumpling for you. -- Hsiao-Ching Chou

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39 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

Except, according to David McCullough, at the dining table of the American embassy during the siege of Paris. 

 

Well, if you are eating canned peas from the 19th century, you deserve what you get!

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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5 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

I do not know how these plants might fare further north where it gets a lot colder.

 

It does not matter how cold it gets, as long as the water is deep enough, it can't ever get colder than 32F.

 

dcarch

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3 hours ago, dcarch said:

 

It does not matter how cold it gets, as long as the water is deep enough, it can't ever get colder than 32F. 

 

dcarch

 

 

Ever heard of ice? And anyway, it's the mud temperature that matters not the water..

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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Luffa acutangula

 

Luffa, Loofah, angled luffa, Chinese okra, dish cloth gourd, ridged gourd, sponge gourd, towel gourd, vegetable gourd, strainer vine, ribbed loofah, silky gourd, ridged gourd, silk gourd. Whatever name you prefer, these vine gourds are related to the cucumber.

 

丝瓜/絲瓜 (Mand: sī  guā; Cant: si1 gwaa1) in Chinese.

 

Sigua.thumb.jpg.1499d0b51892b8f32700cf9a9249bc9f.jpg

 

If the luffa name is familiar to you, it may be because of the bath tub exfoliant, which is the dried pith of mature plants, usually from the closely related Luffa aegyptiaca, known as the smooth luffa. sponge gourd, Egyptian cucumber, or Vietnamese luffa. This one we also get but the first is much more common.

 

Both varieties are edible, but it is only the young fruits which we eat. Usually sliced and stir fried, they have a delicate flavour. My favourite way to have them I first tasted in a restaurant near my countryside home and have replicated many times. The halved gourds are sprinkled with finely chopped garlic and oil then steamed. This image is of the restaurant's version.

 

1043462490_LoofahwithGarlic.thumb.jpg.550615a8bafa7ba0bb9337a26145fb78.jpg

 

It is not recommended that you eat all your bathroom products.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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Here is one many people may consider more like a bathroom product than food!

 

Momordica charantia is known as bitter melon; bitter apple; bitter gourd; bitter squash; balsam-pear among others.  苦瓜 (Mand: kǔ guā; Cant: fu2 gwaa1), in Chinese.

 

kugua.thumb.jpg.0afdb3dfd9d75fc5623788e7c2ad0a69.jpg

 

In the 14th century, this was introduced to China from India, where it remains very popular. It lives up to its English name, bitter melon, etc. It can be very bitter, but you can never be sure until you taste it. Just as some relatively mild chilli peppers can throw in a volcanic example just to keep you on your toes, bitter melon can vary from mildly bitter to totally astringent.

 

Some online recipes advise that you soak or salt them to remove the bitterness. I don't get this at all. If you don't like bitter, why on earth did you buy something specifically identified as 'bitter'?

 

Yes, bitterness is something appreciated as a taste by many Chinese, but can be difficult for some people.

 

Quote

... Chinese chefs rarely list it on their English-language menus because they are convinced Europeans won't like it.

                                             - Fuchsia Dunlop,  Sichuan Cookery 2001  (Published as Land of Plenty in the USA.

 

I like it a lot, but it was an acquired taste. Round here it is usually stir-fried with beef, but also goes well with pork. It has an affinity with black fermented beans. The melons are split lengthwise and the seeds removed. Then it is cut into crescent shapes. I do it that way often, but have also used it in soups.

 

It also comes in another variety known as 珍珠苦瓜 (Mand: zhēn zhū kǔ guā - pearl bitter melon) with knobbly skin. Tastes the same. These come in two shapes.

1216921939_.thumb.jpg.c345ca19984d1020b86f43eb0dc7b75c.jpg

 

20200722_111849.thumb.jpg.e45172a741b958f8063d50183f12c173.jpg

 

Slices of the melon are also dried and used to make bitter melon 'tea'.

 

1966390263_Driedbittermelon.thumb.jpg.ad87a5d83f314be834729dc4826e6caa.jpg

Dried Bitter Melon

 

In Cantonese, various renditions of 'bitter melon face' is used to describe someone we might call a sourpuss.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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I love bitter melon types especially with fermented black beans or stuffed with a forecemeat in a broth. Many are put off by bitter but I like it. 

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Lagenaria siceraria

 

Still at the altar of , we come across these.

 

huzigua.thumb.jpg.46049dc0b49826bbc2ac0a3e590c886a.jpg

 

This is calabash, bottle gourd, white-flowered gourd, long melon, New Guinea bean or Tasmania bean. In Chinese, 葫芦(瓜)/葫蘆(瓜) (Mand: hú lú (guā); Cant: wu4 lou4*2 (gwaa1)) or 葫子(瓜) (Mand: hú zi (guā); Cant: wu4 zi2 (gwaa1)). The gua character is sometimes dropped in this type. They come in many shapes, but this is the most  common round here.

 

Like most of the vegetable gua family, these are used in soups and hot pots, but also stir fried.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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Now I enter dangerous waters.

 

I'm going down the pumpkin hole. There is a problem in that there is no standard definition of a pumpkin, other than it is a type of gourd. This means what I consider to be a pumpkin, you may not and the next guy will think of something different again. This applies in both English and Chinese.

 

So, I'm going to show examples of what is known as 南瓜 (Mand: nán guā; Cant: naam4 gwaa1), which is literally 'south gourd' and usually translated as 'pumpkin'. However, again there are many types.

 

The most common example is simply named 南瓜. These:

 

nangua3.thumb.jpg.8e6ebf03ce7d34929d0a8fa0bd1f2d32.jpg

 

They are around 18 inches/ 46 cm long; clearly too much for the average family in one sitting, so they are also sold in pieces.

 

nangua2.thumb.jpg.1929e3f99ae259d18f6aaa8e54b025ec.jpg

 

We also see these, which may more closely resemble what many of you think of as pumpkins. They are 圆南瓜/圓南瓜 (Mand: yuán nán guā; Cant: jyun 4*2 naam4 gwaa1) which means 'round pumpkin. Again, as can be seen, you can buy a whole one or just a piece.

 

1845523829_roundnangua.thumb.jpg.0e6b655f5f0962591d2a0c92c1c4b8e6.jpg

 

They also come in a green-skinned variety known as 青圆南瓜仔/青圓南瓜仔 (Mand: qīng yuán nán guā zǐ; Cant: cing1 jyun 4*2 naam4 gwaa1zai2), 'young green round pumpkin'.

 

1582349503_.thumb.jpg.076c5b9f49dd1d4e90864b20fa8f090c.jpg

 

Then we have these small pumpkins known either as 小南瓜 (Mand: xiǎo nán guā; Cant: siu2 naam4 gwaa1), 'small pumpkin' or, in Mandarin only, 贝贝南瓜/ (bèi bèi nán guā), 'baby pumpkin'. Those in the photo below are around 6 to 7 inches/ 15 to 18cm long.

 

569373748_xiaonangua2.thumb.jpg.4f9abe971e755e1b7e6d6ff19c51bad4.jpg

 

At the opposite end to the babies are the 老南瓜 (Mand: lǎo nán guā; Cant: lou5 naam4 gwaa1), meaning "old pumpkins'.

 

laonangua.thumb.jpg.0a53a95cad14ef9d4b11ddced391d36a.jpg

 

One very noticeable variety is this:

 

1291126024_uglynangua.thumb.jpg.6e49882977bfbc60f3d4e63b66cbe368.jpg

 

These knobbly gourds are known as 丑南瓜/醜南瓜 (Mand: chǒu nán guā; Cant: cau2 naam4 gwaa1) which means 'ugly pumpkin. Don't look so ugly to me.

 

All of these pumpkins are mainly used in soups and hot pots, although pumpkin cakes are also very popular.

 

More popular than anything is the seeds. Chinese people love pumpkin (and sunflower seeds). I once took an 18-hour train journey and the family opposite me literally ate them for the whole journey.

 

913099407_pumpkinseeds.thumb.jpg.37abae4d860fb3fb219e8dca295e6dad.jpg

 

The seeds are also used to produce oil which is used as a condiment; not suitable for frying. This is available only a few specialist stores.

 

667521305_pumpkinoil.thumb.jpg.a7b00cf9e42ee7e6017e005a91f4dd11.jpg

 

The people here in Guangxi, especially in the countryside, eat the the pumpkin leaves as a green vegetable. But I have kept my favourite to last.

 

643814706_pumpkinflowers3.thumb.jpg.e98e03b666f92b5e0d240e304af4b2ea.jpg

 

南瓜花 (Mand: nán guā huā; Cant: naam4 gwaa1  faa1). Pumpkin flowers are wonderful. Used mainly in light soups, but I've also had them stuffed with minced pork etc. They are also delicious battered and deep fried, tempura style.The flowering season is short, but a highlight of my year,

 

There are other pumpkins, but the season is only beginning. I'll add any more I see, as and when they appear.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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I am a winter squash fan and the most foreign/non-US one I love is kabocha. My favorite garden writer Margaret Roach did a fun interview here. I think we just have to experiment. My Aussie sis uss "pumpkin" all the time - sold in wedges - like many in US use sweet potatoes.  https://awaytogarden.com/libyan-pumpkin-spread-and-jamaican-pumpkin-curry-with-lucinda-scala-quinn/

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15 minutes ago, heidih said:

I am a winter squash fan

 

I'll be looking at winter squash tomorrow. Another one which has different meanings to different people.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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