Squash at home

When cold weather strikes, I find that I crave carbohydrates, and that, for me, is the time to stock up on root vegetables and other fruits of the earth, like squash. I am of the opinion that wanting to eat carbs isn't a bad thing, and so on Sunday I went to the small farmer's market near our apartment, and came home loaded down with four different kinds of squash. We had, from lower left and moving clockwise, buttercup squash, delicata squash, acorn squash, and sweet dumpling squash.

Eating pumpkin or squash in the fall reminds me of living in South America, especially Chile, where large slices of zapallo are often added to simple chicken broths to make a hearty lunch. Zapallo makes our jack-o-lanterns look miniscule; it is a truly enormous squash.

In Chile, when you buy zapallo at outdoor markets, the seller comes armed with a machete, ready to chop it into the size of your choosing. Here in New York I often seen such squashes for sale at Dominican bodegas, cut into large, seran-wrapped slices for easy purchase.

Another reason why squash reminds me of South America is because of the universal bewilderment of Argentines and Chileans towards the idea of pumpkin pie. For them, pumpkin and squash are savory foods, more often consumed with heavy meats than baked with sugar and cinnamon. Twice I made pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving in South America, and both times my pie languished in the refrigerator for lack of an appreciative audience.

I doubt that Chileans or Argentines, however, could resist what I did with my multicolor squash this weekend. Once peeled, cored, and chopped, two small squash joined two cups of fresh apple cider, two tablespoons of butter, and one tablespoon of curry powder, salt and pepper in my cast iron skillet. After simmering for half an hour, the squash took on a sweet, complex, earthy flavor, and was the perfect complement to hearty mixed greens and pan-fried cod.

And that's how I have my carbs, thank you very much!

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