Foodie Underground: Give It Up, Butternut

ColumnSuddenly, sweet potato fries don’t seem so bad.

Heard of butternut squash? Of course you have. I don’t know how one couldn’t, what with it being whipped into some not-your-average-squash creation in every organic, hipster and farm-to-table restaurant these days. Fitzgerald, were he around today, would have surely noted this celebrated starch; the butternut even has its own website.

It’s ravioli. It’s risotto. It’s sauce. It’s bread. It’s pie. It’s fries. It’s roasted, toasted, baked, braised, glazed, and available conveniently cubed at the grocer. Somewhere, someone has named her offspring after this thing that is not a yam. I don’t know if it’s made it into candles and body scrubs because I haven’t been to the beauty aisle in a while – what with being busy tracking down squash recipes and all – but I can only imagine what’s going on over there given what’s going on online.

Last week, I walked over to grab coffee at one of my favorite bakeries when I saw it: a gluten-free, vegan, butternut squash cupcake.

I momentarily paused before whipping out my phone to document this disaster in proper 2.0 style – I do hate to be that girl, but hey, I was already in a vegan gluten-free bakery. I snapped a semi-blurry photo and shared it with the world. Foodies, there’s a new cupcake in town, and it’s called butternut squash. The ubiquitous squash is precariously close to verging into beet, goat cheese and walnut salad territory. Or sliders. Or olive oil in desserts.

What about the acorn? Why aren’t we seeing roasted acorn squash fries on every brew pub menu? Or delicata? Even the name is refined – “I’ll take a glass of bubbly and some delicata, please” – and the cooking opportunities are equally endless.

Butternut is delicious, and totally versatile, which is wonderful, but we foodies may wish to observe a moment of gustatory introspection (as opposed to the more standard routines of navel-gazing, porn, and drool-tweets) and remind ourselves that we’re talking about a squash. A squash.

On that note, I’m off to eat lunch, with a nice bowl of one of my favorite dishes from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking, Chunky Lentil Soup, full of healthy lentils and two whole cups of diced…butternut squash.

You just can’t win them all.

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s weekly column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground, discovering what’s new and different in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to the culinary avant garde.

Images: theilr, Anna Brones

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.