Zucche Fritte

Fried Gourds

Source: Libro de arte coquinaria by Maestro Martino de Como, 15th century

Original Recipe:

Zucche Fritte

Togli de la zucche e nettale bene. Et dapoi tagliale per traverso in fette sottili come la costa d’un coltello. Et dapoi gli fa’trare solamente un boglio in acqua, et cacciale fore; et dapoi le poni a sciuttare. Et poneli de sopra un pocho pocho di sale et involtale in farina bella, et frigile in olio. Dapoi caciale fore et togli un pocho di fiore de finocchio, un pocho d’aglio et di mmollicha di pane; et pistali bene et distempera con agresto in modo che resti ben raro, et passa per la stamegnia, et getta questo tal sapore sopra le ditte zucche. Le quali etamdio son bone ponendogli solamente di sopra agresto, et fior di finocchio. Et se voi che’l ditto sapore sia giallo metevi un pocho di zafrano.

Translation: (from The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy)

Fried Gourds

Take gourds and clean them well. Then slice them across in slices as thin as the blade of a knife. And then give them a single boil in water, and remove; and then allow them to drain. And sprinkle on them a very small amount of salt and toss them in flour, and fry them in oil. Then remove them, and take a little fennel seed, a little garlic and the inside of a slice of bread; and grind these together and blend with a very little verjuice, and pass through the sieve and sprinkle this sauce on the gourds. They are also good seasoned simply with verjuice, and fennel seed. And if you prefer the said sauce to be yellow add a little saffron

My Interpretation:

1 lb. Zucchini or Summer Squash
¼ cup verjuice
salt 20 threads of saffron
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
¾ cup olive oil

Slice zucchini thinly and parboil them. Drain them on paper towels. Lightly salt zucchini slices and dip them in flour and place in hot oil in pan for frying. Drain on paper towels and then place on serving dish. Dress with saffron heated in verjuice and then sprinkle with fennel seeds.


Zucchini and Summer Squash are both native to the Americas, and it can be a challenge to find a European variety. Having an Asian variety of gourd as well as Zucchini, the texture and flavor or similar enough that I find this to be a reasonable substitute.

Calabash is a variety of gourd that was grown in Europe during the middle ages as noted on the Old Cook website.

Works Referenced:

The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy; Odile Redon, Françoise Sabban, & Silvano Serventi, translated to the English by Edward Schneider; The University of Chicago Press, 1998

Libro de arte coquinaria, Maestro Martino de Como, Digital version: Valeria Romanelli, 7/2004. http://www.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/martino2.htm

The Art of Cooking: The First Modern Cookery Book, Translated by Luigi Ballerini, Jeremy Parzen, Stefania Barzini, University of California Press, 2005
- A translation of the work of Maestro Martino of Como, 15th century

Association Maître Chiquart. 2010.  Old cook: Gastronomie médiévale Histoire de la cuisine . http://www.oldcook.com/ (Accessed October 20, 2010)