Only When I Laugh
by Elouise Bell
[p.1]It’s amazing how often the simple truth in a cause-and-effect relationship is missed by an otherwise intelligent observer. For instance, a few years ago, the makers of Postum and Sanka looked into their sales reports and found an amazing peak in the Utah area. Excited by how well their products were doing, they sent a research analyst, with a well-cushioned expense account, to Utah with instructions to put in six weeks research time in order to discover why the Beehivers bought so much Postum and Sanka. I’ve always been curious as to what the analyst did for the five weeks and six days after finding the answer. Maybe fortune smiled, and the assignment came during ski season.
All this is by way of admitting that I have just recently come to understand why there are so many zucchini recipes in the world, and especially in this part of the world. Just the other day I saw a pamphlet claiming to offer one hundred recipes for zucchini.
Now, we don’t have green bean cookbooks, do we? Or “One Hundred Wonderful Ways with Watermelon”? We don’t have [p.2]recipes for radish bread, or celery cake, or cucumber soup. (Yes, I believe there is such a thing, but no one carries on about it.) You see, that was what stumped me—the way people carried on about the recipes. I have friends who greet the announcement of a new zucchini recipe with a great deal more excitement than they gave to the discovery of cold fusion. What am I saying? I know newborn babies who don’t get the welcome a new zucchini recipe gets!
And, until recently, this reception always puzzled me. Did other people really find this nondescript little vegetable all that delicious, that they were ever on the watch for new and better ways to serve it? Was it really such ambrosia to them that they couldn’t get enough of the stuff, and vied with each other for more and more imaginative concoctions? (“Look: zucchini waffles! Hey—have you tried homemade zucchini ice cream yet? Listen, take my word for it: zucchini-oyster dip is terrific!”) In a way, it was like being color-blind. Apparently, everybody else in the world was seeing, or in this case tasting, something that just didn’t come through to me. I didn’t especially dislike the stuff, but I was not about to vote for it to replace chocolate chocolate-chip as the All-American dish.
And then, as I was sitting in my office one day, gazing pensively (or perhaps just groggily) out the window at majestic Timpanogos, the whole Truth came into my mind, all of one piece, as the Theory of Gravity came to Newton.
Eureka! There are so many zucchini recipes because … there is so much zucchini!
And why is there so much zucchini? Because apparently, zucchini crops never fail. I hear tales of people running out on frosty nights to cover up their tomatoes, tales of fruit farmers burning smudge pots to protect the apricots or peaches. I see people planting marigold borders around the vegetable garden to ward off the corn borer. But nobody seems to lose a wink of sleep over the zucchini: it seems to be the weed of the vegetable world.
I may have told you about my non-gardening but devout Mormon friend who finally decided she should follow the counsel of church leaders and put in a garden. She tore up a portion of her plush backyard, tilled and harrowed, and then put in four rows of zucchini. Four rows. Long ones. Of zucchini. When, in the fall, she began showing up at our meetings with dark [p.3]circles under her eyes, I asked about it. Seems she had been getting very little sleep since harvest time. Instead, she was making nightly forays, out in ever-widening circles, to deposit bushel baskets of zucchini (with a few tomatoes on top as window dressing) on doorsteps of neighbors, ward members, stake members, neighbors of relatives, relatives of neighbors … Last thing I heard, she was doing a midnight shuttle out Wendover way.
Why do people climb mountains? Because they are there, we’re told. And why do people plant zucchini? Because it grows. And because it grows so abundantly, people in this region will sell the family water rights to find yet one more way to use the stuff up!
But I’ve heard of a group of women in east Salt Lake who may have licked the whole problem once and for all. It seems they have discovered a method of laminating zucchini. Do the possibilities ripple out before you? Zucchini coasters? Zucchini napkin rings? Zucchini playing cards? (That’d solve the facecard dilemma permanently for card-loving Mormons and bring an end to the nuisance of playing pinochle with Rook cards.) Zucchini ear-rings? Bracelets? Zucchini campaign buttons? Zucchini picture frames?
Why, we haven’t even tapped the possibilities yet! Don’t give up the zucchini!