Evidently, I’ve known chayote all along…..it’s been hiding in plain sight for DECADES right under my very nose. As it were.
Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book
American pb edition 1981. $6.95 (that’s right – I’ve had this book since 1981 when it cost $6.95. I might have gotten it at Notes & Quotes in Kingston or else the Paperback Booksmith in Hanover)
Back cover text:
“Written with all the author’s customary warmth and erudition, here is a modern kitchen guide to the cooking of vegetables, from the well-loved cabbage and parsnip to the more exotic chayote and Chinese leaf.”
Who’da thunk it?????
- Chinese leaf is Chinese cabbage
- Only a Brit could mention parsnips, cabbage and well-loved in the same sentence.
- Chayote has its own chapter…..
- From the glossary for the American edition in the back:
- CHAYOTE: choyote; christophine; mirliton, chayotte
- Other names: in Chinese: Buddha’s Hand Gourd
- Australia: chokos
- From the Aztec chayotl
- Also – choko, chaco, xuxu, christophene
- While were around the topic – is coyote an Aztec/Native word or European? Nahuatl coyotl .
- Jane Grigson has a salad; a creole; a stuffed, New Orleans style; a meat stuffing; a cheese stuffing; also a chutney and a la grecque
- Marian Morash in Victory Garden Cookbook Under Squashes (Summer)
- “In the South you’d have good luck with chayottes (known as christophene in the Caribbean and vegetable pear or mirliton in the South). Substitute this bland tropical squash with all summers squash.” p. 270
- Joy of Cooking (2006)(but I owned another earlier edition previous to this one)
- A tropical summer squash aka christophene & mirliton.
- “The harder the squash the better the flavor.”
- “ …unless you plan to stuff it, peel with a vegetable peeler working under running water to prevent being irritated by the sticky substance just under the skin, which disappears in cooking.”
- Boiled; Louisiana Style (stuffed with shrimps, ham, red bell pepper, hot pepper…
- Crescent Dragonwagon in Passionate Vegetarian has them under Mirlitons a/k/a/chayote
- Stuffed Creole style
I went the salad route
a la Jane Grigson
Boiled 2 whole chayote in salted water until fork tender, about 25 minutes.
In the meantime, made a dressing of 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard and 3 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper and a good amount of chopped parsley. Jane also recommends chervil , but I was right out…..
Drain and peeled chayote under running water.
Cut one in half, right through the seed….cut each half into 4 pieces and tossed into the dressing while they were still warm.
I hard-boiled 2 eggs, because I decided on a more substantial lunch salad, versus side salad.
Peeled and put the hot hard boiled eggs on my plate, topped with several pieces of the chayote, shared the dressing and ate with hot buttered toast.
adapted from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book,pp. 198-9.
I had 2 chayote and they were not from the same places…but they were in the same bin together…one was from Costa Rica – smoother, more pear shaped; the other, more ridges, was from Mexico.
The Costa Rican chayote. Easier to peel, more texture then taste.
The ridge one was from Mexico – harder to peel, has a very faint, almost evocative taste of asparagus though
Cuisine Provencale by Antoine Raspal in Musee Reattu, Arles
This image wraps around as the cover of the Jane Grigson Vegetable Book.
and a little more on chayote confusion: from wiki:
Chayote (Sechium edule) is an edible plant belonging to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, along with melons, cucumbers and squash.
Globally it is known by many names including christophene or christophine, cho-cho, cidra (Antioquia, Caldas, Quindio and Risaralda regions of Colombia),
sayóte (Filipino languages),
guatila (Boyacá and Valle del Cauca regions of Colombia),
sousou or chou-chou (chow-chow) (Mauritian Creole),
tayota (Dominican Republic),
mirliton (Haitian Creole),
pear squash, vegetable pear, chouchoute, choko, güisquil (Guatemala, El Salvador),
piskot or sikot (Meghalaya),
is-Kush (Nepal) 
su su (Vietnam).
Its tuberous and edible root is called chinchayote or chayotextle in Mexico and ichintal in Guatemala.
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