Guisquil (you might know it as Chayote)

Guisquil is the wonder vegetable of Guatemalan cuisine. This green, pear-shaped squash is prominently used in Guatemalan soups and stews, but can also be found in other forms as well. 

Guisquil was one of the many foods introduced to Europe by early explorers. Originally grown in Southern Mexico, the conquest of Mesoamerica spread the plant south of Mexico, eventually causing it to be integrated into the cuisine of many other Latin American countries.

Today, Guisquil has found its way into the cooking of non Latin American countries. In Australia, the squash thrives and can be found on vines climbing up fences and houses. In the United States, Guisquil was appreciated as a cheap and hearty commodity during the Depression and War era. It was even used as a substitute for apples in apple pie. 

The flavor of Guisquil is rather bland, and therefore it is added to dishes where it can soak up the flavors around it. The squash is a great source for Vitamin C and fiber, and it is especially known for its high water content, with water making up nearly 93% of a Guisquil’s total weight.

While this vegetable (technically all members of the squash/melon/gourd family are fruits, but we will call it a vegetable since it acts like one) has fallen out of vogue in the United States and elsewhere, down here in Guatemala we appreciate the Guisquil in all its forms. Keep an eye out for the squash in Guatemalan stews, like Pepian or Jocon.