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No, not the heinous murder on Via Enrico Toti, about which I told you last week.  That is still under investigation; our friend on the State Police force here in Rapallo has told us they have enlisted the aid of the Vigili del Fuoco, the Guardia Forestale and  the Polizia Provinciale to solve the crime.  No doubt the Guardia di Finanza will be called in at some point too.

The mystery that is solved, almost to my satisfaction, is the one I told you about on August 18, having to do with a strange vegetable that arrived uninvited both in the compost pile and under a climbing rose.  And am I embarrassed!  You’d think after umpety-bumpteen years of gardening I would recognize a pumpkin when I saw one, but I didn’t recognize these as pumpkins, not at all. And while I’m calling it a pumpkin, I’m still not 100% convinced it is a true pumpkin.

As the strange yellow squash-like orbs of August matured they began to take on a more pumpkiny look – orange skin, though not as orange as a good old New England pumpkin gets.  I find the light stripes highly suspicious:

I never grew a pumpkin before that had this sort of stripes.  It’s almost as if a decorative gourd eloped with a smallish pumpkin and had a couple of dubious, if beautiful, offspring.

The pumpkins (I’ll call them that for the sake of ease) each weighed about seven pounds.  Inside the one we opened were more seeds than anything else, which is a pumpkiny trait.  But there was not as much non-fibrous flesh as I associate with true pumpkins.

So what did we do with this gorgeous thing?  One night I made a baked squash (pumpkin)  gratin, which used about half of one pumpkin (recipe of Deborah Madison here).  After peeling and cutting it into cubes and boiling briefly I whizzed up the other half in the food processor, and a few nights later made a fabulous sformata of squash (pumpkin), courtesy of Mario Batali (recipe here).

We had company for both these dishes, and they were really well received.  So if you have a squash kicking around, or a pumpkin, or something in between, try one of these autumn/winter dishes – you won’t be disappointed.

That’s one mystery solved.  Now back to Via Toti…