A Zucchini By Any Other Name…
…would taste as sweet.
My grandmother makes the best zucchini bread. I bet yours does too. Perfecting zucchini bread seems like the thing to do when you’re a grandma. I thought I’d get a head start. I’m an old soul trapped in a young woman’s body and often dream of the day when I’ll be retired, knitting and stroking one of my 17 cats. Before you think I’m a pathetic dreamer, I should tell you that I plan to do this knitting and stroking in a flat overlooking the Sunday outdoor market along the river in Lyon, France. That day can’t come soon enough!
I also happen to be obsessed with the European name for zucchini. “Courgette” just seems so much more lyrical than the staccato “zucchini”. Along with my fantasies about retirement in Lyon, I’ve gone so far as to toy with the idea of calling any daughter I might have Courgette. Would it be wrong of me? Then again, Tony in the Sopranos regularly calls his son “gagoots”, the Italian equivalent of courgette or ‘zukes.
I didn’t know that last bit nor had I even heard the word “gagoots” until just recently when I had an interesting conversation with my good friend, Fred. He came for the day to hike with me around the Super Secret Getaway and admired the Italian zucchini I had set aside to perfect my zucchini bread techniques. He has a real eye for details and commented on the lovely color variations and unique ridged shape of this Italian variety of zucchini. While we were out hiking, we spent more than one of the many miles we traversed talking about gagoots, his family’s nickname for zucchini. I was intrigued by the word, particularly how one might spell it and where its origins lie. I like collecting random food trivia like this in preparation for the day when Trivial Pursuit releases its foodie edition (I’m sure there’ll be a line outside Toys ‘R Us for that one). I will finally redeem myself of all the miserable losses I’ve suffered at the hands of those awful questions for the “sports and leisure” and “arts and entertainment” categories! But I’m getting a little off track here, aren’t I?
After a few Google searches with a variety of spellings (googoods, gacoots, etc.), gagoots yielded several interesting facts, including that nugget about Tony nicknaming his son with this modified Italian term for squash or pumpkin. D would be so proud of me…I finally have a use for the Sopranos. He’s currently making his way through the whole series on DVD and I, frankly, rather detest it with all the random violence (have I alienated any of you by admitting this?). What I also learned on the wonderful WWW are further hints as to the origins of the term gagoots. It likely became an Americanized pronunciation for the Italian word “cucuzza” which literally translates into summer squash. And now you know.
What’s that befuddled look on your face? Oh, you’re wondering what it is exactly that you’ve learned at this point about making zucchini bread? Well, perhaps not a lot, but at least the next time you travel to Italy, you might have a better shot at knowing how to order a zucchini dish.
Now let’s get back to this particular recipe and some helpful information about it. I have a good solid zucchini bread recipe already, but I thought I’d try a new one for the sake of keeping things interesting. The idea of adding lemon into the mix did indeed seem interesting so I gave this version a try. The many positive reviews didn’t hurt either. While the flavor is quite good, it’s not really tremendously different than my other batches. I’d add even more lemon next time, including a little juice. And maybe some grated butternut squash too since David Siller gave me a hunk of a batch he had made that incorporated butternut. His was very hearty with an added dimension in the flavors. In short, I need to continue my perfecting. In the meantime, this is a good variation on the theme.
LEMON ZUCCHINI BREAD
Adapted from All Recipes.com
1.5 c. shredded zucchini (or gagoots)
¾ c. sugar
1 egg, room temperature
½ c. unsweetened apple sauce
1.5 c. flour
½ t. salt
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. freshly grated nutmeg
2 t. lemon zest
Preheat oven to 325 F and spray a 4 x 8 inch loaf pan. Mix egg and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in applesauce and set aside. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix in zucchini and lemon zest. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean.
For best flavor, allow to cool completely before serving. Freezes well so make a double batch to have some in winter when zucchini’s not so plentiful.