Squashes

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A collection of squashes Is the perfect candidate for a still life. With their fantastical shapes and vastly differing sizes, their netted, smooth or scalloped surface and beautiful, muted colours, they look almost too lovely to eat. Until recently, pumpkins, marrows and courgettes were all you could buy in the UK but now the whole glorious family of gourds is available, from the tiny, scalloped, pale-green or yellow pattypan to the chubby, brightly coloured spaghetti squash with its fragile, stringy flesh. In their native America, squashes have been enjoyed for centuries but once English settlers brought the seeds back to Europe they quickly became established on this side of the Atlantic, too. The English adopted the clumsy, overgrown marrow; the Italians and French had the good sense to eat the same vegetable while still tiny, tender and sweet, christening it zucchini and courgette respectively. Pumpkins are popular everywhere, used to make thick soups, casseroles, pies and gratins and even puréed as a filling for pasta. In the Middle East they are often combined with sweet and sour flavourings or candied as a rich dessert.