By Gustavo Arellano
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By Charles Lam
The produce aisle can be daunting during autumn. Those big white pumpkins, turban squash, sweet dumpling, butternut, hubbard, buttercup, ambercup, acorn, spaghetti and lakota squashes—every shape and size cucurbita staring at you, begging for a good home. But you, don't have a clue how to give them a good home. And you don't want some sort of Squashgate breaking out when you try to pawn off a Japanese kabocha squash on your mother-in-law.
Tanya Petrovna has answers. Sunday, she's cooking up some of her famous Native Foods recipes at her second annual Squash Fest at the Camp in Costa Mesa. Gobble up some of her curried pumpkin soup with pomegranate pearls, join the squash tasting (with comment cards to help you keep track), and let go of your squash anxiety.
"At Native Foods, we love to educate while we are putting something great in someone's mouth," Petrovna says with unbridled squash enthusiasm.
And what does she think about the produce-aisle intimidation? "They're big and heavy, and there's that whole 'What am I going to do with it?' thing." But really, she says, most winter squash is interchangeable. And with so many shades of orange available—chock-full of beta-carotene and other cancer-fighting antioxidants—we should stock up while we can.
But it's not all about what's for dinner. There are also lots of "squashy" things happening, Petrovna says. You can boogie down to reggae music, peruse the sidewalk chalk art by Native Foods' resident chalkboard artist GG and pick up some handcrafted goods.
Plus, if you're feeling particularly frisky at the thought of turkey-free fixin's after a day with the Native Foods crew, sign up to adopt a turkey and spare it from a tragic fate. No one will be more full of thank-yous than your new stuffing-less feathered friend.
Squash Fest at the Camp, 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 751-2151; www.www.nativefoods.com. Sun., noon-5 p.m. Free. All ages.