The kitchen is no place for the timid, so a few weeks back I decided to start my quest with a challenge: the oddest-looking, most obscure vegetable I could find. After cruising the produce aisles of my local grocery store, I decided on this warty, bulbous concoction:
Apparently, it’s called a turban squash, although to my mind, it looks more like a four-striped-penguins-hunkered-in-a-life-raft squash. (I guess that name was taken.)
Proud of turning up such a bizarre veggie, I selected the biggest, brightest, wartiest penguins-in-a-life-raft squash I could find, and lugged it to the U-Scan.
Not the best plan.
As one might have imagined (although not me, evidently), the user-friendly produce menu on the U-scan had no entry for turban squash—and of course, I’d picked a veggie so obscure it didn’t even have one of those annoying little 4-digit-code stickers.
So I called over a disgruntled-looking employee in an incongruously cheerful yellow shirt to look it up for me. She eyed my squash suspiciously.
“It’s a turban squash,” I blurted out, suddenly self-conscious. “I think.”
“Huh,” the woman grunted in response as she flipped through her printed pocket index. Eventually she found the right code, pecked it out on the touch screen, and hefted the squash, which weighed about as much as my baby nephew, onto the belt.
The U-Scan machine squawked in protest; it didn’t take kindly to the oppressive weight of the squash, it seemed. It took another try, more squawking, an override, and some snickers from the ladies at the adjacent customer service counter before I could pay for my enorma-gourd and get the heck out of there.
As I hurried out into the clear fall sunshine, though, I was more exhilarated than embarrassed: I had my squash! The quest was on! (I like to celebrate little victories, what can I say?) But as soon as the thrill wore off (about five seconds later) I was surprised to feel a few butterflies in my stomach as I pondered the bigger question: besides admiring my squash in all its warty glory, what on earth was I supposed to do with it?