Squish Squash

Fried. That’s the way you get your first solid food in the Deep South. Squash is no exception–battered, fried yellow squash went with fresh-sliced vine ripe tomatoes straight from our vegetable man, Mr. Puckett (who died just recently.)

I don’t remember ever having the same dry-heaves response to squash that I did to canned asparagus (we couldn’t get fresh back then? Why EVER eat canned asparagus!?) The name alone has repulsed many a small child before the first bite might otherwise have been a possibility.

But I may have taken my last bite of squash–of the yellow variety, now that we have, for the first time, grown pattipan this year.

We sliced a few of the 5″ flying-saucer-shaped fruits and put them on the grill the other night, along with some marinated chicken. We dabbed them with olive oil, and sprinkled them with pepper and season salt. Unlike yellow crookneck, they have very little seed cavity and are mostly the firm, fleshy receptacle walls of the fruit of that particular vine. They don’t get mushy like the yellow ones, and actually have a bit of flavor on their own apart from the seasonings you add.

I just found this recipe for “creamed pattipan” that I think we’ll try.

I’m not sure about the storage potential for late-season pattipans, but I’m in the process of improving our small cellar to get rid of some moisture and retain more of the coolness over fall and winter, so may give a couple of these veggies a test, and next year, plant only pattipan. And try them cubed and fried. [I’m open for serving suggestions and recipes, y’all.]

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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