Z is for zucchini


Here’s a funny thing. We had some courgettes for dinner the other night and the next day when I was thanking the friend who had had child 3 sleep over with her daughter that night, enabling Mr T and the boys and I to enjoy a green vegetable without her gasps of horror and disgust, I carefully translated myself and said that we had been eating zucchini.


Recently I’ve been mulling over writing a different post about a new name I’ve just learned for a game I know well. In that case, the names for the game in different languages are remarkably similar. But its not so in the case of this squashy veg. Zucchini? Courgette?

It’s not hard to guess that zucchini is the Italian word for courgettes, brought to the US over a hundred years ago when the largest wave of Italian immigration took place. Nor is it hard to take the leap that courgette came into UK English from the French. What is funny though (yup, here’s the funny bit I promised earlier) is that the actual plant came from over here in the first place. Zucchini/Courgette, along with other squash in the family originate in Central America and only came to Europe post Christopher Columbus and the discover of the New World.

Which begs the question, what would this watery green or yellow veggie be called if it had not travelled the globe quite so extensively? The Spanish word for zucchini/courgette is “calabacin” but then I’m pretty sure there was plenty of squash being eaten before the Spanish arrived so what might an indigenous word for squash be? The best I have come up with so far is a Nahuati word “chayotli”. Chayotli fritters anyone??



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