I’ve written before about achocha (scroll down to the bit about the beard and the achocha), a ‘lost crop of the Incas’, also called caigua. I think ‘achocha’ maybe comes from the Aymara and ‘caigua’ from the Quechua. At least a Quechua speaker I discussed it with didn’t know the word ‘achocha’, although the book ‘Lost Crops of the Incas’ says caigua is Quechua.
I grow this pumpkin/melon/cucumber cousin most years and it begins to give us its heavy crop around now, having romped up and over the 10ft hedge that separates us from our (very nice) neighbours. This is the plant I saw growing, appropriately enough, self sown, in a crack at Macchu Pichu.
It goes in everything – this weekend in macaroni bake and salsa verde (with tomatillos / Mexican husk tomatoes that are cropping rather small in the ring culture I’m using for tomatoes this year). I had a few little ones dliced in my sandwiches today too.
Here are a few of them – I like them young before they get big and fibrous – though they can be stuffed then, and in a Colombian market I saw some about four inches long. The tomatoes are some of the ones from the ring culture: the orange ones are unusual – a French heirloom variety – heavy cropper and very tasty indeed. The dark red ones are ‘Black Russian Plum’ from the Heritage Seed Library as are the larger plum ones – Christel’s plum. The yellow ones are Golden Sunrise – available commercially, Finally, the green one is actually ripe – another French one. Why grow ‘moneymaker’ and ‘gardener’s delight’ when you can have much more interesting ones?