Upo is one of my favorite vegetables. I practically grow eating this vegetable. My mom has a small garden in our yard and she always manage to grow upo by building a trellis for it to cling to. The trellis we call “palapa” is made of bamboo. It is build with four bamboo poles that are embedded in the ground and the by splitting the bamboo poles, each strand is weave just like in basketry making but with bigger spaces in between, about four inches squares each.
My mom cooks the upo with corned beef, (canned goods before in my hometown is much affordable). She just uses garlic, onions and tomatoes for sauteing the corned beef then the diced upo adding just a little bit of stock or water because upo consists of mainly water. It’s a simple type of cooking but creates a whole main course for the whole family and delicious too.
The upo in the picture is not the type I grow up with. The upo I know is longer and sometimes have a variegated skin color. The Italians call this “cucuzzi” or club gourd. The upo is also called calabash which I think we got the name for the other type of squash we call “kalabasa”. They actually belong in the same family of cucurbits. The rounded shape of upo is dried and made into containers or bowls, and some other odd shaped ones are used when dried as a water carrier since it is waterproof. Some creative people make it into birdhouses, by making a small hole where the bird can perch and enter, and emptying all the dried seeds and fibers inside.
Healthy and utilitarian, upo is a must in your garden.