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Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Snake Cucumber?
Photo from: Tobyotter
OCast. alficoç, alficos, HispAr al’fiqqüs, alfqqús (fr. Rabbanical Aramaic, pikkūsā), L. Cucumis flexuosum, Eng. serpent melon, or snake cucumber. Frequently, this is confused with the cucumber as it is commonly called “cucumber” instead of by its proper name. The stems are very long with rounded leaves. It bares small pale yellow flowers. The fruit is elongated, thin and twisted. It is eaten pickled or raw. It grows in warm areas such as Valencia and Murcia. It is thought to be the ‘Hairy Cucumber’, Cucumis chate, a wild melon having cool and sweet flavor similar to the watermelon mentioned in the Bible (Isaiah i.8). Villena instructs that they should be cut crosswise in large slices. The seeds are planted in spring and lie so many members of the melon family, the fruit is available in autumn. See pepino. [Alonso, Martín I:A:243; Covarrubias 1998:334; ES: Grieve. “Melon, Serpeant.” Sep 19, 04; ES: “Pepino.” Apr 13, 04; Villena/Brown. 1984:160; Villena/Calero. 2002:42b; and Villena/Saínz. 1969:131]

Photo from: Chris Jenkins
Although Villena instructs how to cut serpent melons, he provides no recipe for eating them. Currently in Spain, they are not available, it is not known if this is is due to the growing season or the lack of public demand. Should serpent melons be found, they can be pickled using the same recipes that are for cucumber. Also, today, when available, mothers keep the melons in the refrigerator for teenage nibblers instead of potato chips. As the skin is soft, it does not have to be peeled.

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