Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Review of Squash: Fascinations Upon an Understated Gourd

"Quite seldom in life does fruit matter anymore." These words mark the epicenter of Squash: Fascinations Upon an Understated Gourd, the latest cookbook travelogue by horticulturist Samuel Wong Remalcoole and the third and final work in his "melon" trilogy (following Watermelon: A New Dawn Rises Over Sunset (1998, Amorphous Chicken Press, 285 pages) and Acorn: The Fast and Recognized Frontier (2002, Two Hundred Grand Piano Books, 293 pages)).

Whereas Remalcoole’s Watermelon found an eloquence in seedless descriptions of Oregonian-Taiwanese gardens in the 1950s and 1960s, and Acorn tended towards self-indulgence with its two hundred fifty-eight snapshots of an oak tree leaf, Squash captures that perfect balance of summer and winter.

From the opening chapters of Squash, as the aptly named Ann and Dave meander through the vegetable section of the second largest flea market in Tucson, we are compelled to wonder whether their marriage will outlast dinner.

Dave, 41, chooses each squash with such care and Ann, 39, speaks so endearingly of November, that we can almost picture them as psychology graduate students at the New London Graduate School of Artifacts and Gourds. Remalcoole has a knack for capturing the passion that Ann and Dave share for squash, their mutual disdain for broccoli and celery sticks, and their fierce lobbying for ordinances to put a squash on every dish in town. (In fact, rumor has it that the first title of the book was The Carrot Lobby.)

This passion jump starts the unlikeliest of festivals -- a three day feast in Tintleabre Square, attended by the most discrete gardeners and chefs of all thirty-one political parties. Many edicts were signed and comprehended. But it is only through Remacoole's description of honeydew that we know love is possible. Seven stars.