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March 22, 2002: It didn't want to be eaten anyway

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I have never been a fan of squash. To put it bluntly, I hate squash. Ever since I was a small child I have found it completely and utterly revolting. My poor mom, who loves squash, would serve halved acorn squash, the centers full of butter and spices, and my sisters and I would choke down the requisite amount, or avoid it all together if we possibly could. There are few foods out there that can make me feel nauseous, and squash is one of them.

So it may seem odd that when the latest list of possibilities for our weekly fruit and vegetable box arrived, I did not cross out the Winter Squash selection. Instead I decided that perhaps it was high time I gave squash another chance. After all, over the years I've worked myself up to voluntary ingestion of zucchini again. Granted I won't eat it raw or by itself, but chopped up small, it makes a delicious addition to lasagna or spaghetti sauce or soup. Considering I've managed to overcome my zucchini revulsion, it only seemed natural that squash would be next on the list.

Richard, naturally, likes squash. He also likes eggplant and coconut, so it's obvious that there's no accounting for some people's taste, but the point here is that he happens to like squash. The problem was, since I have successfully avoided it my entire adult life, I had no idea how to cook the thing when it arrived.

It sat in the box, green and spotty and lumpy, looking for all the world like a pumpkin gone horribly wrong. The list claimed it was a winter squash, but all the information I could find suggested that winter squash are long and yellow, not green and squatty. I began to have the sneaking suspicion that this was, in reality, an acorn squash in disguise. But I was not going to let old tastes get in the way. I started asking around to see if anyone had any ideas on how to prepare my green and twisted little friend. And much to my amusement, I discovered that I am not alone in my squash squeamishness. The general consensus from pretty much everyone was to dump the little gourd directly into the compost heap and save myself a lot of hassle.

To my credit, I did try. I looked up squash in my handy dandy set of cookbooks and discovered that the first step in preparing any version (be it winter, or acorn) was to cut it in half. I also discovered that this was easier said than done. I hacked at it for a while, and then coerced Richard into the hack fest as well. No luck. That thing was not coming apart. Perhaps if we owned a small hatchet, or a chainsaw, but...

The good news is, despite the disastrous attempt with the mutated pumpkin thing, I have managed to get at least one step further into the world of squash. Tonight we tried spaghetti squash - and actually liked it. I served it with spaghetti sauce (because it seemed somehow appropriate) and it was actually quite tasty. It had a consistency rather like bean sprouts (so just imagine eating bean sprouts in spaghetti sauce. Um. Trust me. It wasn't bad).

The next time the list comes and I see Winter Squash, I'll know to cross it off with a very thick black line and request something slightly more appealing, like broccoli or brussel sprouts. I may never be willing to confront my eggplant revulsion, or eat zucchini in its recognizable form, but at least I'm not completely hopeless. In my opinion, finding even one edible squash is better than never having pushed the limits at all.

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