It's fine to joke about people in small towns who never lock their doors except in August, when their neighbors have excess zucchini to get rid of. It's not so funny when your partner, your sweetheart—the person you thought you could trust most in all the world—is too polite to say, "No, thanks," to a colleague and comes home with the world's largest zucchini.
No kidding. "Zucchini" in Italian apparently means "little squash." Not the case here. This particular overgrown vegetable was the size of a chorus girl's thigh. Or maybe a sumo wrestler's forearm—if the sumo wrestler were on the petite side. It was easily 18 inches long. And its circumference? Any would-be fashion model with thighs that big would immediately sign up for Weight Watchers. One slice would have filled a dinner plate. Heck, one slice could have been used for a dinner plate.
This was clearly not a vegetable to sauté in butter and have on the side.
I briefly considered keeping it beside the front door as protection against burglars, fundraising neighborhood kids, and aluminum siding salesmen. It would have made a great defensive weapon. Of course, it would have been a one-shot wonder. If you actually hit an attacker with it, it would have exploded on impact and turned into a weapon of massive self-destruction.
This could still be an effective defense. The resulting mess all by itself would probably have been enough to discourage any invader except the most determined Cub Scout in quest of a popcorn-selling merit badge. But then somebody would have had to clean up that mess. Never mind. So much for the zucchini defense initiative.
My next strategy was to leave the massive marrow out on the counter until it spoiled, at which point I could dump it out on the compost pile with a clear conscience, incidentally feeding every deer in the neighborhood for several days. It sat on the counter for ten or twelve days. It refused to rot. Apparently the damned thing was too big to fail.
Finally, I surrendered to the inevitable. Clearly, this zucchini was destined for a winter's supply of zucchini bread, brownies, or cake. I got out my biggest knife, hacked the monster into manageable chunks, and peeled them. I dumped the seeds into the compost bucket. I cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces and cooked them in the microwave until they were mushy. I drained off some of the liquid and pulverized the remains with the potato masher.
Then I spooned the stuff into—one quart-sized freezer bag. By the time I got rid of the seeds and cooked down the rest, that giant vegetable was reduced to a mere three and a half cups of zucchini goop. That's enough for one measly batch of bread.
If only reducing one's thighs could be so easy.
The next time I read your column, I am going to make sure that Ginny is not standing next to me, reading over my shoulder and laughing like a demented hyena. My ears are still ringing. Or , I will not be wearing my hearing aid. Zuccini, indeed!
Well, it was funny! Funnier, even, because it reminded me of the summer squash plant I raised in last summer’s garden. The darn thing shot vines 50 feet in each direction, until I was picking squash from the neighbor’s side of the fence, and worrying that the folks living in back of us would be brushing squash off the sides of their deck. This year I planted only a hill of cucumber vines, which know their place. Ginny
Maybe that’s why so many people plant zucchini–just to know there is something in the garden that will grow well besides the weeds!