Neapolitan Long Squash

Ark of taste
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The Neapolitan long squash is also called the Neapolitan full squash. It is traditionally grown in the Campania region of Italy. This squash is part of the Moschata species, an annual with rapid vegetation and with an herbaceous stem that is long and angular. The root system is fibrous, branched and shallow. The leaves are kidney-shaped with 5-6 lobes, and are dark green in color with lighter streaks and robust barbs. The flowers have a deep yellow corolla; the male flowers develop first and are characterized by a long stalk, while the female ones have a short stalk that holds the ovary from which the fertilized fruit will originate. The fruit is a cucurbit shaped like a club, curved and swollen at the apex, about 60-70 cm long (up to 100 cm in some cases) and with a diameter of 15-20 cm. Its weight averages 20-25 kg. The skin is smooth, thin and light or dark green. It is completely full of red-orange colored pulp that is firm and sweet with a musky flavor. It has a cavity at the far end that contains the placental system in which there are numerous seeds of white or gray-brown color that are oval-shaped, flattened, slightly wrinkled and with the marginal edge clearly revealed. The long squash is a vegetable that is well-adapted to different soil types, and can be grown even in clay soils that are well-structured, though it prefers deep soils that are cool, well-drained and rich in organic matter. The growing cycle is spring/summer. The Neapolitan long squash is sown directly in the field between April and May. Harvest takes place from the end of July to September and, if the squash are kept well-ventilated, shaded, and protected from frost, they will stay fresh for several months. It can be eaten raw, in salads, pickled, steamed or baked in the oven, and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. The squash, originally from Central America, was one of the first vegetables, together with the potato and the tomato, to be imported into Europe after the discovery of America.  The origin of this cultivation is identified in the Agro Nocerino-Samese region, and has become widespread throughout the gardens in the province of Naples. The Neapolitan long squash is at risk of disappearing since it is mainly grown in personal gardens, and thus the overall level of production is not very high.

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