Living with fat zucchini: Need a great doorstop?

August 19, 1998|By Rob Kasper

WHAT DO YOU do with fat zucchini? It is a question that folks in this region struggle with every summer.

The svelte zucchini - those long, slender and tender vegetables - are always in demand. These little numbers are very popular with the saute and crudite crowds. But the wide zucchini, the extra-extra large size, are always struggling for a spot at the supper table.

In zucchini, as in life, thin is in and fat is frowned on. To this I say, "Get real!" Skinny is overrated. Spreading out happens; learn to live with it.

Lately I have been living with several very wide green zucchini. These are the big fellas, the "porkers" of the garden. One day these fellows were only slightly bigger than blossoms, but before you could say "water soluble fertilizer," they went on a growing binge. Now they are big enough to double as paving stones.

I confess that I considered abandoning them, making a "zucchini drop." This is a common, desperate attempt to remedy the fat-zucchini predicament. It works like this. You leave the big fellas in a public place - on a park bench, or on a picnic table, or on the back seat (covered with fancy gift wrap) of an unlocked car. You make the "drop," then walk away, never looking back.

My conscience wouldn't let me abandon my big, ugly guys. I brought them into the world, and felt a sense of responsibility toward them. So rather than ditch the zucchini, I wanted to make them productive members of my family. Besides, I was worried that if I tried to dump them, I would have that revenge-of-the-giant-zucchini nightmare. In that bad dream, I repeatedly try to roll a giant zucchini up a large compost pile. As soon as I get close to the top, the giant zucchini rolls back down to the bottom, forcing me to begin the task again. It is sort of a Sisyphus-meets-Miracle-Gro nightmare.

So rather than casting them out, I have tried to make the extra-large zucchini useful members of our household. For example, I am here to tell you that big zucchini make great doorstops.

Moreover, if you are worried about your personal safety, I suggest you consider toting a few extra-large zucchini. These big fellas can deliver quite a wallop.

Call it intimidation, or "vegetable presence," but when you walk down the street with a couple of giant zucchini under your arm, nobody messes with you. In my experience, when folks see a guy coming toward them with several large zucchini under his arm, they move to the other side of the street.

I have also looked into culinary uses for fat zucchini. Zucchini bread probably is more responsible than any other single recipe for the disposal of large zucchini. But I don't care for the taste of the stuff.

Nor do I find the "slash and fill" solution - slashing open a giant zucchini, filling it with ground beef and then baking it - that appealing.

But recently I found a suggested use for giant zucchini that had me licking my lips with anticipation. It called for making rum in them.

I found this suggestion in "The Book of Food" by Frances Bissell (Henry Holt, 1994). Bissell is the "cookery columnist" for the London Times. Bissell says that in Europe large zucchini are called "marrows." In her book she describes, in a general way, the practice of making marrow rum.

"A large zucchini or marrow squash is filled with sugar after a slice has been cut off the top and part of the inside hollowed out," she writes.

"It is then suspended in a pillow case from a ceiling hook, and after suitable fermentation time, a hole is poked in the bottom of the marrow and the 'rum' drips through."

That is why I have zucchini hanging from the rafters of my back porch.

I expect to hear some complaints that the hanging zucchini are unsightly, and they attract bugs.

I don't care. To make zucchini rum, you have to break a few conventions.

As soon as I figure out what the heck a "suitable fermentation time" is, I plan to toast "big bodies" with a cocktail made from my newly productive, and very fat, zucchini.

Pub Date: 8/19/98

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