Ever since Joanne at "Eats Well With Others" wrote about zucchini as an emerging world power, I've looked at our local green market in a different light. Joanne has uncovered a conspiracy. It has come to my attention that mountains of zucchini control the air rights above the Columbia University Green Market. No other vegetable occupies more Upper West Side square footage than zucchini.
I've been watching them. Every Thursday and Sunday -- hours before sunrise -- truckloads of zucchini quietly roll into Upper Manhattan; the zucchini provocatively arrange themselves in huge, overflowing heaps in the greenmarket stalls. By the time we shoppers arrive at 8 a.m, all it takes is a sideways glance at the Evil Empire of Green and Gold and . . . game over. We're buying zucchini again, for the 157th time this summer.
Then come the irrational thoughts that have nothing to do with muffins, bread or deep-frying. We've been brainwashed, as Joanne explained, into thinking the unthinkable. New applications. Recipes like . . . Zucchini Thermidor and Zucchini Foam on a Bed of Warm Poi.
Do these vegetables have no shame? (We tried to reach the zucchini for comment, but they declined to be interviewed or photographed for this piece.)
As a casualty of the Zucchini Industrial Complex, I've suffered. Zucchini has caused me to misspell words . . . like, zucchini. I keep dropping the "H" -- ZUCCINI looks right to me, but it's wrong, all wrong . . . an occupational hazard, if you're making puzzles.
I also blame zucchini for my inability to spell LOCAVORE; for some reason, I keep visualizing LOCOVORE, with an extra "O" and no "A." This eats away at my confidence.
LOCAVORE is a handy word to throw around at your local farmers' market. It gives you street cred; it means you're down with eating locally and seasonally. Late summer means dinners of organic tomatoes, yellow peppers, sweet corn, plums. And those juicy Beefsteak Tomato sandwiches on toast -- so simple to eat. All you need is a wet suit and a bathtub. 'Tis the season.
Finally, I blame zucchini for making me more paranoid than I already am. I suspect there's a puzzlemaker out there, plotting to trick me by crossing LOCAVORE ("Many a Greenmarket patron") with TIA ("Madre's sibling").
And if that crossing should appear in a Monday crossword, I might write TIO (Madre's sibling, right?), instead of TIA. The result would be LOCOVORE -- which looks fine to me. Of course, that answer is wrong and there'd be no congratulatory greeting from Mr. Happy Pencil. That would be -- not exaggerating, here -- a travesty of international proportions.
But, there is a solution . . . it's entirely possible that LOCOVORE is a word, when defined as: "One who is crazy about eating locally."
So, how do ya like me now, zucchini? Yeah, I'm talkin' to you, you interloping squash-bucket punk -- I am a locovore.