Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Trombetta di Albenga!

With each new gardening season it's fun to test out a new variety or two to tuck in amongst the tried and true heavy producers. Especially appealing are heirlooms with exotic foreign names: Pimientos de Padron peppers (Spain), Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes (Russia, for some reason), Biondi di Lyon chard (Italy). I can travel the world without leaving my backyard.

Several years ago I planted some seeds from Renee's Garden for an Italian climbing squash: Trombetta di Albenga, which basically means "little trumpet from Albenga." Albenga is a town on the Italian riviera not far from Genoa. The squash does climb and its fruits are indeed somewhat trumpet shaped. And I know they come from Albenga because there is a clip on YouTube of proud Albengans showing off their local produce. It is all in Italian but it features a big basket of these strange elongated vegetables.

The only misleading part is the diminutive "-etta." Be warned. These things are not little. They are mighty Jack-and-the-Beanstalk vines with huge leaves and dangling fruit that gets so big it won't fit into the refrigerator.

All summer long, with mingled fascination and horror, I watched two humongous vines grow and grow. Somehow the whole season passed and I never managed to actually cook any of the odd and alien greenish-yellow pods. Like a movie that goes straight to DVD, they went directly from garden to compost, with some brief detours into the house where they sat around until becoming compost-worthy.

Those intimidating plants might very well be nourishing this year's two vines -- grown from the same seed packet, several years old. Both of the new plants are thriving and this season I am determined to see how the squash cooks up.

Update: (February 7, 2011) We finally got around to using Trombetta in a recipe. As promised, it has a delicious, subtle, artichoke-nuanced flavor when sliced thin and cooked gently.


susan bayless said...

where did you get the seems......i would like to try on an arbor at our community garden in englewood, co...thanks susan

BB said...

Hi Susan. The seeds came from Renee's Garden. Here's the link:


You have to scroll down a bit to find the Trombetta seeds. Click on the photos link to see a great picture of an arbor. Renee is known for finding wonderful old heirloom varieties and bringing them back to this country. Good luck with your community garden!