Cucuzzi an odd market veggie

In the shadow of the Civil War monument adjacent to the Coles County Courthouse, located at Sixth St. and Monroe Ave., a woman with emerald eyes and silver streaked brown hair waits behind a table to sell fresh produce to those who have risen early to attend the Charleston Farmers Market.

There are many items for sale that one would expect to find at such a market–an assortment of herbs, melons, okra, etc.– but passersby seem to be particularly interested in a peculiar looking pale green vegetable.

“I’m just curious, what is that thing?” an elderly woman asks as she points to the largest of the produce that fill a basket at the end of the table.

“Cucuzzi,” says Cathy Ploud, of Martinsville, “It tastes like a cross between cucumber and squash. It’s good in a salad. Also, you can fry it.”

The woman inspects the long green oddity momentarily while Ploud roles up her flannel sleeves.

“Huh,” the woman says and continues on her way.

Ploud, who has been selling produce at the farmers market for 10 years, said Cucuzzi, or Calabash, is an edible gourd that can grow up to three feet in length.

“I bring four to eight each week,” she said.