This history-which follows-came to me, when a beloved friend asked me to concoct this recipe for sautéed squash; she fell in love with its original at an excellent restaurant, while traveling. Goldie longed to enjoy repeats of this masterpiece, without having to leave the Portland area; thus, she trusted my expertise to supply her this powerfully good recipe-thanks to another chef’s inspiration!
This whole process made me aware that we need each other’s expertise; thus, we lend our strengths to one another in order to break through circumstances-both in the kitchen and life. This exceptional combination started in the mind of an adept chef, but I built on it using my own approach. In turn, I encourage you to take it to your worlds, by innovating yet further.
None of us wants to miss playing out our foreordained part! I loved acting in community theatre in days past. Here I learned that there are no small actors, just small parts. The eye can’t say to the nose I have no part in you, or where would the sense of smell be in the body. In this manner, we can’t fulfill our destinies without each other’s help, while always remembering that every “body part” is critical. We don’t want to forfeit, even by default, any of our precious chances to give or receive support. This way we discover our life-purposes.
James Trager has been all that for me in my writings. With a mind like mine for detail, he offers a feast of food history information in The Food Chronology. His work equips me with an abundance of needed facts, to effect my God-given calling.
For instance he has four entries on squash. The first dates back to 1527, when conquistadors returned to Spain with facts about New World foods. They reported that the Aztecs consumed squash and beans among numerous other delicacies, such as: white worms, eggs of water bugs, and domesticated guinea pigs. These tamed animals were eaten with the skin on-the hair being removed as with a suckling pig. (Note: while studying food in 1985, I was offered guinea pig in Peru, one of the lands the conquistadors conquered in the 16th century.) 1
Next, Trager takes us to Virginia in 1588. Then English mathematician Thomas Hariot wrote that these Virginia fields were planted Indian-style with squash, maize, beans, and melons. However he noted they yielded five times more than the same acre in England. 2
I take this chance to build on Trager’s house: this New World area, nearly two centuries before the forming of America, was called Virginia, a word from the Latin virgo (stem virgin). The land was named after Queen Elizabeth I, who was queen of England and Ireland (1558-1603). She was known as “the virgin queen”; thus, this virgin land became Virginia.
Finally, our illustrious historian Trager details the early public appearances of spaghetti and calabaza squash in the United States. The first, resembling spaghetti, was introduced in 1962 by a specialty produce company in Los Angeles. 3 Then, when Miami’s Grand Bay Hotel opened in 1982, Jamaican-born Chef Katsuo Sugiura had a loin of lamb among his specialties. He smoked this over oolong tea and hickory chips; Sugiura served it with calabaza squash, grilled Portobello mushrooms, and yuca. 4
I love to share the bread of life through my recipes and words. As you can see, my act of creating is so dependent on the works of others. Now may you expand this, my fire, in your lives-both inside and outside your kitchens.
- James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1995), p. 88.
- Ibid., p. 104.
- Ibid., p. 569.
- Ibid., p. 660.
Sautéed Squash with Curried Yogurt Sauce Yields: 3-4 servings. Total prep time: 3/4 hr.
3 tbsp butter
2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine (I have also substituted 1/4 tsp dried ginger, but fresh is better.)
1/2 large apple, peeled and chopped in very small pieces (I prefer granny smith apples here, but not necessary.)
1/4 tsp curry powder
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup plain yogurt (Nancy’s Plain with Honey is good; Stoneyfield organic plain Greek yogurt is even better.)
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste (Real Salt is important; available in health section of local supermarket.)
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and sliced in 1/4″-wide strips
Roasted almond slices for garnish, optional (May roast nuts ahead of time at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.)
- Put a serving platter in a warm oven.
- Melt 1/2 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, apple, curry powder, and honey; sauté until fruit is soft; stir frequently. Remove from heat, add yogurt immediately, season to taste with salt. Set aside.
- Meanwhile peel squash with a sharp knife. Remove any seeds. Place flat side of halved squash on counter and cut in 1/4″-wide slices; cut these slices into equal sized strips. (See above photo.)
- In large frying pan, heat 1 1/2 tbsp of butter over med/low heat, until a small piece of squash, which is placed in it, sizzles. Sauté as many strips in hot butter as will fit in pan; cook for about 4 min per side, or until soft and golden brown. Remove cooked pieces to warm platter and keep in oven. When this batch is finished, add another 1/2 tbsp of butter to pan and repeat this step, until all the squash is done.
- Pour yogurt sauce on hot squash, garnish with optional almond slices, and serve. Be prepared for joy unspeakable!