Pumpkin, Squash or Yam?

This time of the year, many seasonal vegetables look alike, but aren’t what we think. Catherine helps us categorize them.

“Don’t let a pumpkin confuse you….it is only a squash”, it was once said.

A couple of weeks ago I was wandering through Chedraui’s produce section in Cancun and, as in most grocery stores at this time of year, became visually overwhelmed by the plethora of hues. They ranged from a Halloween-esque black, deep purple and red, to orange, yellow and green. It wasn’t the decorations from Dia de los Muertos morphing into Halloween or Thanksgiving, and they were stacked up high throughout the aisles. I had found all my favorite types of squash.

We touched upon this last year in trying to determine whether a pumpkin was a squash, a gourd or an entity of its own. Simply said, pumpkins are part of the squash family, which has over 700 species. But with hundreds of sizes, prices, dozens of varieties, color variations and flavors, it is a marshland of choices to wade through.

The butternut squash can be used as a substitute for the sweet potato, either in a hash or soup and as a side dish for the holidays. I walked through DAC here in Playa and saw the piloncillo and melipona honey and immediately thought to add it to my store-bought butternut squash to integrate the home-grown with the local.

If you see another orangey vegetable staring at you it may not be a squash, but rather a yam. Just like sweet potato, turnips, carrots, taro, ginger and shallots, they are all related and are in the root/tuber/bulb vegetable category. You didn’t realize that you were eating roots and bulbs all this time, did you? Then maybe I should focus on these diverse edibles in an upcoming article, to make us realize that we have all been root foragers for quite a while.

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