The Marrow

There was a knock at the door.

Standing there was Jerry, disheveled assistant to my sister Laura’s boyfriend, Ron, holding the largest zucchini I’ve ever seen.


“This is from Ron,” he said, handing it to me. It weighed more than a ham.

I thanked him and closed the door.

My 7-year-old daughter regarded the squash suspiciously.

“What is that?” she asked.

“A zucchini.”

“What’s it for?”

“To eat.”

She looked concerned.

“Do I have to eat it?”



Our friend Emma was coming to dinner, with her mom Leith who was visiting from New Zealand. The squash was sitting on the table in the entryway when they arrived, and I could tell they noticed it immediately.

“This is for Leith,” I said, pointing to the zucchini. “Yeah,” Leslie added, “We thought you might like to take it back home to New Zealand with you.” But she was having none of it.

“You know,” she said, “When they get this big, they’re not called ‘zucchini’ anymore. They’re called ‘The Marrow’.”

“The Marrow” — a metaphor! I was an English lit nerd — this I got!!! It stood for zucchini at its most elemental, an expression of pure, insistent zucchininess. In preparation for our voyage to Alaska, my son and I had been reading Jack London’s “Sea Wolf”. This courgette was the vegetable version of Wolf Larsen — a perfect hulking specimen.

From “Sea Wolf,” the character, Humphrey Van Weyden describing Wolf Larsen:

“I had never before seen him stripped, and the sight of his body quite took my breath away. It has never been my weakness to exalt the flesh — far from it; but there is enough of the artist in me to appreciate its wonder. I must say that I was fascinated by the perfect lines of Wolf Larsen’s figure, and by what I may term the terrible beauty of it… masculine, and almost a god in his perfectness.”

There was indeed a terrible beauty to the giant, muscular vegetable, like the bicep of some green giant.

The Marrow rested beside us the entire dinner, a fifth presence, sitting there inanimate like an overstuffed guest that had fallen asleep at the table.

“Isn’t there something you can do with it?” Leith said. “Hollow it out and stuff it?”

“Yeah, or slice it thick and grill it?” Emma added.

“I don’t want to,” I said. “I want it gone.”

I carried it with me to the door as we said our goodbyes, giving it one more attempt to pass it off as a parting gift. They laughed, we laughed. Then they left and there I was, holding the zucchini.

I stole out under the cover of night. “There’s something I’ve got to do,” was all the explanation I gave my wife.

Once, years ago, someone had sent me an animated e-card. Apparently there was a national Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day — an actual real thing! — dreamed up undoubtedly by the zucchini marketing council. And the card featured a little cartoon crook — mask, beret and striped shirt — emerging from the shadows of the bushes, leaving a big squash on a porch, and disappearing again.

The Watermans next door were in for the night. As I tiptoed furtively up their front steps, I could hear them laughing inside. Perhaps they had their own company over. I knelt to carefully place the gourd, and my shoe scraped against the tiles. Jack, their Alaskan malamute, barked twice, and I made my stealthy escape.

I hadn’t been home 10 minutes when the phone rang. Seeing the Watermans’ number on the caller ID, I didn’t answer. Glennis left a message, and a moment later the following email arrived:

“Be very afraid! there are home invaders leaving giant zucchinis on Topanga front porches!”

Attached was photographic evidence from their front stoop:

The Marrow at the Watermans'

The Marrow at the Watermans’

And that, my friends, was the last I heard of The Marrow. I had expected to see it back by our own front door the next morning. But perhaps Glennis decided to take on the vegetable, maybe hollowing it out and stuffing it, serving it to 20 or 30 of her closest friends.

When we returned from Alaska a couple weeks back, I discovered that my mother-in-law who had been staying at the house had left behind in the fridge half a dozen reasonably large yellow crook-neck squash. At first I felt resentful. But asked to bring an appetizer to a party, I decided to turn my resentment into resourcefulness and make some kolokithokeftedes. WHU-HUH!??? you reasonably say. I introduced them at the party by a more approachable, descriptive name: Greek squash fritters.

Beware — ’tis the season of zucchinis and other copious late summer squashes left on porches and in refrigerators in the guise of generosity. When God gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or, in this case, when God gives you The Marrow, make a whole bunch of kolokithokeftedes. Enjoy…

*    *    *

serves 4 – 6 as an appetizer

1/2 lb. yellow summer squash, grated
1/2 lb. zucchini, grated
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup minced Italian parsley
1 medium white onion, grated
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup finely crumbled feta
ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

Toss together grated squash and salt, and set aside for 1 hour. Squeeze grated squash and press firmly into a colander to get rid of as much water as possible.

In a large bowl, mix grated squash with parsley, grated onion, egg, panko, cheeses and ground pepper to taste. Scoop out a tablespoon at a time, and form into small patties. (You should get somewhere between 12 and 16, depending how big you make them.)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Fry the fritters for about 3 – 5 minutes, until they begin to brown and crisp up. Turn over and do the same on the second side. Remove to paper towels to drain. Serve with tzaziki, if you’d like.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nikki
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 03:16:45

    Great article. Love the Marrow and the warning of “late summer squash abundance”. Thank you for sharing your recipe as well❤


  2. pal-O
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 03:29:31

    Received a spectacularly large zuke–similar to your monster– from my sister-in-law’s organic garden. It was made into bread, muffins and was stuffed with sausage then baked, and lastly sautéed with onions and tomatoes and served for sustenance for a week on baguette slices or scrambled with eggs. It was simply a terrific week celebrating late summer goodness!


  3. Mom
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 03:31:33

    We have copious tomatoes in our space behind the tasting room. Today I made
    a tomato, red pepper soup flavored with fresh tarragon from a friends garden and finished with cream and a handful of chopped Persian cukes and avocado. Num! The joys of summer.


    • scolgin
      Aug 20, 2013 @ 15:52:57

      That sounds great! I’m using up our abundant tomatoes right now, making a dish we had at a little café in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul — eggplant, tomato, hot red peppers and TONS of olive oil cooked for hours, served with a baguette for scooping.


  4. JC Williams
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 03:33:10

    O.M.G. – I was one of the lucky ones to sample Sean’s kolokithingies and they were AMAZING (yes I’m shouting!). Glad to have the recipe!!! You were right to give away The Marrow, though – I grew one that large once and it was woody and completely inedible. Scary but true: squash rocks!


    • scolgin
      Aug 20, 2013 @ 15:54:15

      LOL, I love “kolothingies” — that’s what I’ll call them from now on. Our neighbor Glennis — recipient of the “Tag — you’re it” Marrow actually made some pretty delicious zucchini bread with it (of which we were the fortunate recipients).


      • JC Williams
        Aug 22, 2013 @ 03:02:52

        Glad to hear it was the gift that kept on giving – bon appetit! Enjoying your “digestible” blog posts – pun intended!

      • scolgin
        Aug 22, 2013 @ 15:33:15

        Nice to have you onboard, Jessica! I’ll do my best to keep you entertained and well fed! 😉

  5. coffeetablecookbook
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 15:25:46

    Hahahahaha. This is just great!


  6. Michelle
    Aug 21, 2013 @ 00:04:34

    Funny. (And why for decades I thought I hated zucchini.)


  7. glennis
    Aug 21, 2013 @ 13:50:58


  8. Trackback: Night of the Cephalopods | skinny girls & mayonnaise

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