Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Cucurbit:  (ky-kûrbt)
n. 1. Any of various mostly climbing or trailing plants of the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes the squash, pumpkin, cucumber, gourd, watermelon, and cantaloupe.
2. A gourd-shaped flask forming the body of an alembic, formerly used in distillation.
I've known for 30 years that I am allergic to watermelon and cantaloupe, and have figured out in the last 10 years that cucumbers really do a number on me too. I'm talking itchy, watery eyes, itching and swelling tongue, mouth, and inside my ears. My stomach and intestinal tract are also not happy when I eat those foods.
I've never had a problem with zucchini. Not long ago I realized that is because I always eat zucchini cooked, not raw like I would eat watermelon or cucumbers. Did you know that heat - otherwise known as "cooking" - denatures the proteins that causes allergic reactions in people? It's not a foolproof fix, but it lets me eat a bit of an otherwise totally off-limits food.
I thought pumpkin was okay for me. Not so. Having food waste on my mind yesterday, and realizing that I was waiting for two pumpkins to go bad so that I could finally throw them away (pumpkins that my Pretty Girl and my sweet little Buttercup picked out at the pumpkin patch) a light went on and I decided that I would roast them and puree them and freeze them for pies and other pumpkin goodies. (Did you know that the demand for pumpkins in the U.S. each Halloween equals 1.1 billion pounds, most of which is discarded and headed to landfills after the holiday? Meanwhile, children are starving right here in our own communities...)
Well, after cutting open and gutting them and generally fiddling with them trying to get them ready for the freezer,  I now know that that whole Cucurbitaceae family bothers me greatly. The skin on my hands was so itchy they were throbbing. I sincerely hope that this doesn't mean I have increased my sensitivity to pumpkin and that I will still get to eat some pumpkin pie next week. Because pumpkin pie is my favorite, and it will really be disappointing if I can't eat it anymore.

I think the word "cucurbits" substitutes nicely for any cuss word.


  1. Very good cussing, I think. I did the pumpkin thing when Christy was tiny and that was her first solid food after rice cereal.

    I prefer to roast acorn squash (that's the big long yellow one, right?)

    I eat a few pieces after they've finished roasting, and then make soup out of the rest.


  2. I'm allergic to those same things raw, Amy, and although they've never bothered my ears, I once got full body hives from a combination of eating watermelon, partially uncooked cracked wheat on crackers (I also react to that), and pine pollen. I can eat small amounts occasionally (as in one small square or two of watermelon or cantaloupe). Cucumbers are the worst for me. :P Pumpkin pie is cooked. It has never given me any trouble. Of course I use the canned pumpkin from the store, which is probably cooked(or at least heated) before they stick in in the can.