- Calabash (Lagenaria siceraria) aka bottle gourd, drinking gourd, white-flowered gourd, long melon, suzza melon originates from Africa and is considered one of the most ancient vegetables to be cultivated by humans
- Calabash grow in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the size of summer squash to over a several feet and they are also a close relative to pumpkins and squashes.
- The calabash (bottle gourd) has travelled to almost every continent and has influenced a wide variety of cultures -- it is believed that it made its way from Africa to South America by floating on the water!
- The bottle gourd is the subject of the song "Follow the Drinking Gourd" (1928) -- a song that was used by enslaved Africans to travel to freedom via the Underground Railroad. The "drinking gourd" was code for the Big Dipper constellation because these gourds were often dried and hollowed out and used to drink water and eat food out
- Calabash is very high in water (like cucumbers and zucchini)
- It also contains vitamins C and B-complex and iron
- Calabash are widely used in a variety of Asian cuisine. For example, in India calabash is called as lauki (hindi), sorakaya (telugu), and sorakkai (tamil) and is often used in Indian cuisine to make a variety of dishes. The skin is also widely used in making chutney. Here are some delicious (and easy!) Indian cuisine recipes that use calabash.
- Throughout Africa, calabash are often hollowed-out and dried and made into utensils that care water/food and into a wide variety of musical instruments (they were actually originally cultivated less as a food source but more because they make great containers).
- In China, calabash are called the "hulu" and are an ancient symbol for health and the seeds represent fertility.
- In South Africa the leaves are added to maize porridge and also are mixed with other plants made into a relish.