chokos drawing
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Chokos aren't apples

"Of course it's apple pie." Well, excuse me, of course, it isn't. Apples have a sweetness and sometimes a tang. Passing off chokos as apples in a pie may save money but it doesn't fool anyone.

Chokos have been despised for a long time. Years ago, every backyard fence in suburban Australia was covered with a choko vine and mostly they fell to the ground where they stayed, uncollected, uncooked and unloved. It was virtually impossible to give them away to neighbours - when your vines were covered in produce, so were theirs.

I wonder why people didn't just pull out the vines and grow some sweet peas? I think it must have been a hangover from the Depression of the 1930s. My grandmother was a great advocate of the choko. As well as mixing them with apples in her pies, she would dress them up with a white sauce. But we kids never fell for those slimy slices hidden in tasteless sauce.

The man of the house recently commented that I never served up chokos. My reply was simple: like bread and dripping, chokos were for those who couldn't afford anything better.

But it encouraged me to look up their history and the nutritional value. The choko is a member of the gourd family, indigenous to central America, Mexico and the West Indies. It dates back to prehistoric times and that's where many people wish it had stayed. But if you are adventurous you may like to know that as well as the choko you can eat the tender shoots, roots and tubers.

Kaye Duffy
Newcastle NSW

To elevate the status of the humble choko, I give you a recipe for

Duffy chokos royale

4 chokos, peeled and quartered
30 g butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
125 g blue vein cheese, crumbled
½ tsp sugar

Cook chokos in boiling salted water until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain and place in a shallow heatproof dish. Melt butter and stir in flour and milk. Return to heat and stir till mixture boils and thickens. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add cheese and sugar and stir till cheese melts. Season with pepper and pour over chokos.

Topping: Melt 30g butter and combine with ½ cup soft white breadcrumbs. Spoon over dish and grill till crumbs brown.