Cushaw sweeter, smoother than pumpkin
If you’re from a rural area of south Louisiana, you probably know what cushaw is — a big, green- and white-striped crookneck squash. The flesh inside is pale yellow, and there are fibrous strands and seeds in the center of the cushaw’s rounded part. The big secret is that it’s delicious, sweeter and smoother than pumpkin. By itself, the flesh is rather bland, so it needs a touch of sugar and spice.
I bought a cushaw at the Tuesday Red Stick Farmers Market to use as part of my table decoration for a book signing I did in New Roads. The young people hardly noticed it, but several people (nearer to my age) remarked about how much they liked this vegetable. A couple — I didn’t get their names — told me they baked cushaw, cut into squares and with the rind or shell left on. For serving, the cushaw rind sits on the plate and the flesh part is up. The shell is sort of like a container; part of the fun is scooping the flesh from it. It’s tender and smooth so you can easily eat it with a fork.
I think the reason I never cared for cushaw is that my grandmother drowned it in sugar and butter and cooked it until it was mushy. This couple told me they didn’t use much sugar or butter, so I tried it their way, leaving the shell on and baking it. I guessed at the amount of ingredients, judging from what they told me and I loved the way it tasted.
Now, you’re in on the secret as to how delicious cushaw is if you don’t boil it or steep it in too much sugar and butter.
Corinne Cook is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.