One of my recent first-time purchases was the ridged gourd (Luffa acutangula), a vegetable also known as angled loofah, Chinese okra, tori, and patola. Ridged gourds have soft, edible skin when young, taste somewhat like zucchini, and are popular in Asia. In California, a few of the farmers of Asian descent sell them at the Farmers’ Market.
I used a south Indian recipe as a guide to cook the gourd, braising it with some grated coconut, then topping with a spice, chili and curry leaf infused oil. Perhaps the gourd was too old, or perhaps I didn’t trim it properly, but in my finished dish half of the pieces were so fibrous that I could not eat them. I understood why one of the names of this vegetable is angled loofah! The actual loofah sponge, however, comes from the Luffa cylindrica gourd. The Hinata Diaries has a funny story about a trip to Egypt that includes a hungry tourist, a language barrier, and a cart of loofah gourds.
Back when I regularly wrote scientific papers for journals and conferences, my co-authors and I would always seem to include a clause at the end of the article saying “more research is needed.” But with the ridged gourd, I don’t feel that the clause is needed, as the flavor of the non-loofah-esque pieces which was not good enough to make it worth the gamble to buy this vegetable and possibly find much of it to be inedible.