All squashes, including zucchini, originated in the Americas. Archaeologists have found evidence of zucchini in Mexico as early as 7000 BC. Ancient Central Americans ate a diet rich in corn, beans and squash, a combination known today as "the three sisters." The zucchini itself is actually the immature fruit of the cucurbita pepo plant.
When European explorers conquered the region in the 1500s, they brought back exotic foods from the New World, including zucchini.
In Italy, zucchini became known as zucchino. The French and English name is courgette.
The American colonists developed the word "squash" from several Native American terms meaning "something eaten raw."
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were avid horticulturalists who grew many varieties of squash.
The cocozelle, a relative of the zucchini, was developed in Italy and is smaller and striped.
New zucchini hybrids are being developed today, including some crossed with the fluted patty pan squash.
- Photo Credit morguefile.com
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