Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Recycled cucumbers

Just imagine: you grow cucumbers. And like most vegetables, they are all ready to be picked at the same time. You find yourself with an enormous stock of cucumbers, much more than you can eat. So you offer them to your neighbours. But guess what; they have grown cucumbers too and were just about to give some to you. How to use this surplus? Maybe there is a way to preserve or even ‘recycle’ it!

Next time you want to grow cucumbers, you may consider choosing the Luffa (also known as loofah or lufah) variety.

From Wikipedia

The luffa, loofah, or lufah are tropical and subtropical vines comprising the genus Luffa, the only genus of the subtribe Luffinae. The fruit of at least two species, Luffa acutangula and Luffa aegyptiaca (Luffa cylindrica), is grown, harvested before maturity, and eaten as a vegetable, popular in Asia and Africa. The ripe, dried fruit is also the source of the loofah or plant sponge.

What has this got to do with my recent Loire Valley trip?

The first part of the Amboise’s Sunday market mostly consists of stalls selling flowers and seedlings. Next comes the food section, with bread, cheeses, meat, vegetables, Chinese takeaway and wine. In between, on a corner, we noticed an unusual stall with essential oils, soap, bath oils, sea sponges and … Luffa.

J.L. was immediately intrigued by the unusual shape and textures of the objects that were on display. I had already moved on to the nearest butcher's, when I noticed that J.L. and B were chatting with the woman selling the Luffa. I therefore joined them and listen to what the lady had to say.

Apparently, the Luffa is some kind of cucumber which is dried in a special way. What is left is a spiderweb-like structure. It is very hard and looks a bit like the skeleton of some pre-historic creature. You can use is as a sponge or as a support for your wet soap.

Slices of dried Luffa or Loofah.

According to the sign Luffa:
- fends off impurities
- offers a natural contact
- can be washed at 60°C (I’m rather sceptical about that)
- keeps your soap healthy and dry
- is 100% natural and unique
- costs 2 euros per 3 pieces.

J.L. and B. bought three Luffa slices and I’m curious to know whether the product lives up to its promises. We also had a cheerful chat with the saleslady, who was proud to show off her knowledge about Belgium. “Aah, Manneken Pis, l’Atonium et le Ring”. This last bit surprised us, because and although ‘Le Ring’ (Brussels’ equivalent to Paris’ Péripherique’) is notorious in Belgium, it was the first time that we actually met someone abroad who knew about the circular road’s infamous reputation.

Btw: Did you know about Luffa and its qualities?



Anonymous said...

I've known about luffas for years,
but have used them when in large
pieces with asmall tape loop on
each end so they can easily used
to scrub one's back. Very
popular in the UK I believe. Doubt
they're good to eat as cukes, tho'.


Jean said...

The loofa was a part of our bathing routine when I was a little girl. I remember dreading having my back scrubbed with it by my mother at bathtime. They are enjoying a revival in the UK as part of the trend for natural products around the home, or in this case, in the bathroom.

ladybird said...

Sheila, Thanks for visiting my blog and posting a comment.
I've never seen a Luffa on a vegetable stall, well not in Belgium anyway. So I suppose you are right about its gustative qualities :)

Jean, Lovely to read you! I can just imagine how painful it must have been to have your back scrubbed with a loofa. They look pretty rough to me!

Nadege said...

Martine, the loofa looks like a dried bitter melon (you took a picture of it and was wondering what it was few months back). I wouldn't used is dried but fresh, bitter melon has wonderful healthy qualities.

ladybird said...

Nadege, These dried loofah were a lot bigger that the bitter melons I saw in the Alsace! But I'm sure they are related. BTW, I still haven't had a chance to try a bitter melon, as I haven't been able to find any in Belgium. Or maybe they are out of season?