Courgette Bicolore


It’s probably safe to assume that I pay more attention to zucchini than the average joe, but if you had been walking by Joël Thiébault’s market stall* with me that day, you wouldn’t have missed these either: there, between the hostess-gift-worthy bouquets of fresh herbs and the off-white bulbs of hélianthi (a cousin of the Jerusalem artichoke with fewer knobs), was a basket of curvy-necked, bi-colored zucchini.

These zucchini were a little scratched, yes, as if they’d spent the morning playing in the bramble thicket, but they were thin-skinned and firm, they looked as if their bottoms had been dipped in pale green paint, and this was too pretty to pass up.

“Are they bi-flavored?” I asked the vendor, “Like Malabars?” (The Malabar is a French bubble-gum that was created in 1958, and comes in a bi-goût version — lemon and strawberry — that was hugely popular in my gum-chewing days.) He laughed and said, “Sure, vanilla and pistachio.” I bought two pounds.

Of course, once the zucchini is sliced — in my case, paper-thinly and served raw in a salad, with olive oil and a few drops of the stupendous 12-year-old balsamic vinegar that my friend Marianne gave me for my birthday — only you will know that it was bi-colored in the first place. But this doesn’t bother me at all; I like the idea that this chromatic oddity is for the sole benefit of the cook, a bit like wearing nice underwear when no one’s there to see it. (If you are intent on showing it off, however, you could opt to halve and stuff the zucchini, perhaps with two different colors of stuffing, to really get your point across.)

* Joël Thiébault — for those of you who don’t live in Paris, or do, but have been living under a paving stone — is the super-star of vegetable growers. In his family farm just outside of Paris, he cultivates hundreds of varieties, most of them rare or saved from oblivion (légumes oubliés), and provides them to famous Parisian chefs — Pierre Gagnaire, Pascal Barbot, and Inaki Aizpitarte, to name just a few. And for the benefit of us mere mortals, he also sells them on two different markets, and through a luxury delivery service that I will subscribe to as soon as I become a millionaire.

You can visit Joël Thiébault’s stall at the Marché du Président Wilson on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, or at the Marché de la rue Gros on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Both markets are located in the 16th. He has also published a handsome book that features his favorite vegetables, with accompanying recipes by his chef-friends.

Note: I don’t know the real name of this variety of zucchini; I just named them so in honor of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, which my father used to read to my sister and me at bedtime.


Things Clotilde Loves

OXO Digital Scale
OXO Digital Scale

A trusty food scale for precise cooking and baking measurements

  • $49.95
Japanese Mandoline Slicer
Japanese Mandoline Slicer

The indispensable utensil for paper-thin vegetable slices

  • $23
  • Joan

    Clotilde, it reminds me of small bananas here in Australia that are dipped in red wax…the two tone …Chanel-shoe food

  • Joel Thiebault is great, his book is wonderful! With him, you can discover a lot of delicious vegetables!

  • bi-color squashes are so pretty. if they dry well, they make great center piece arrangements in the fall.

  • Nice pic! It would be great if it could be vanilla and pistacchio!

  • Adele

    I’ve been getting these as part of my weekly farm share, but I forget what our farmers, Liz and Ben, called them. Perhaps we’ll have some in today’s bounty. I’ve taken to tossing them, along with fresh onions, traditional zucchini, baby eggplant, olive oil and fresh herbs in my new grill basket.

    We’ve also gotten some beautiful little bi-colored yellow and green patty pan squashes to stuff and bake.

  • Oh, it is pretty! I’ve never seen those. They look more like the crook neck yellow squash I grew up eating in Alabama than traditional zucchini.

  • Adele

    Farmer Ben said it’s called Zephyr squash. And they had the little pattypans today, too!

  • I will look for Joel Thiébault’s stall at the markets. Thanks for the tip. We’ll be staying in the 7th, so it’ll be an easy jaunt.

  • anne f

    Deeeeelicious! I wish they had these in America. So pretty for a bowl too!

  • Ah, a Kipling fan! Elephant’s Child was one of my kids’ favorite stories. The zucchini are pretty. They would be fun to cut into strips that showed both colors! I was disappointed that the tri-color “green” beans I grew mostly turned green when cooked. Still, pretty in the garden.

  • Amanda

    I buy a share in a community shared agriculture farm–the idea being shared bounty, shared risk. Each February, you pay into the farm’s coming harvest then from June to November, receive a weekly delivery of whatever has grown large and tasty enough to be picked. The farmers bring the veg to a local pick-up spot, where we all meet, weigh out our portions of beets, greens, heirloom tomatoes etc…and zucchini. By the time zucchini season passes I don’t think anyone is sad to see the backside of those long green guys–they surely are prolific. We’ve dubbed them “the vermin of the vegetable patch, like rats slinking around the wharf.” But at first (for instance, last Thursday when zucchini made their debut) they are dainty and oddly shaped. I completely understand why, like pretty underpants worn in secret, you were won over by fancy zukes that would ultimately cook down into a delicious yet uniform dish.

  • I’ve been buying these beauties for the past couple of years here in No. California. They have almost a nutty taste in comparison to other varieties of summer squash. I prefer them raw or very lightly steamed because their flavor is so delicate. Yum.

  • I haven’t seen those, but just found some gorgeous purple & white striped Eggplants at my local farm stand. They were called “Zebra”…

    found a picture here:

  • rainey

    Ah! I had the same thought as Ellen when you mentioned that you lose the effect as soon as the squash are sliced.

    And I’m excited to hear from Milinda that similar squash are available in NoCal. I hope that means they’ll make their way to SoCal before too long because the nutty flavor sounds like a great new innovation in summer squash.

    When I saw them I thought of the lovely but inedible gourds that will become available here soon.

  • Bonjour!

    I thought I recognized Kipling as well…

    I’ve been lurking about reading your blog for many months but am just now getting around to commenting. Your blog is positively inspiring – and one of the few sites I visit pretty much daily.

    And after lurking I finally decided to start a blog of my own. It’s an addicting little habit, this food blogging stuff!

    At any rate, thanks for inspiring me.

  • Gorgonzola

    This is some beautiful prose, Clotilde.
    Was this post a part of your cookbook, which you have chosen to cut ?

  • Why not name this the Chocolatand Zucchini? Seize the moment!

  • Lisa

    Oooh, I love the Just So Stories (“I am the cat who walks by himself, and all places are the same to me”). And I’ll be in Paris starting this Friday. I’m adding these markets to my humongous list of food-related places to go!

  • WOW, looks so beautiful! They are completely new to me, nice to learn read about them…! ;) Great name by the way…! Wish Joël Thiébault”s stall was in Holland, or better – I was in Paris (!) =)

  • Marianne

    Ravie que tu aimes ce balsamique et merci d’en faire si bon usage…


  • Looks like a lemon-lime Zucchini!

  • Rose’s Lime

    These zucchini, oh my best beloved, only grow properly by the banks of the
    great grey-green grassy Limpopo river.

  • play with food! yup… split and grill ’em and stuff ’em to show off the
    lil beauty! use salsa verde to fill the yellow part and mango salsa or
    roasted yellow peppers to stuff the green part! FUN! =D

  • gorgeous, this is the first time I have encountered two toned vegetables.
    We have the two-toned bananas that Joan mentioned earlier, but they are not
    naturally occuring. The zucchini is truly beautiful.

  • Lou

    It’s a zephyr squash! Aren’t they lovely…

  • C’est une courgette Zéphyr, Tarzile a fait une très belle soupe avec l’été

  • Elizabeth

    Yes, it is a hybrid developed by Johnny’s Selected Seeds according to one
    source. First the Delicata (a small oblong winter squash) and yellow Acorn
    were merged. Then, this cross-product was bred with the yellow crookneck.
    Zephyr squash are popular in farmers markets in the States.

  • Cara

    Chanel-shoe food…that’s great. Last night at the Blue Plate in SF we had
    fried zucchini flowers…do these zephyr’s flower

  • gingerpale

    Not commenting today, just looking and smiling!

  • conor collins

    Bizarre, really bizarre. Though I am holding my breath for the sprite
    sponsored lemon-lime.

  • rb

    I think that is a gourd. It is attractive for a bowl but I feel that squash
    is probably one of the one horrible tasting vegatables I know. Why pay the
    money for something like that? If it looks like a squash, its tastes like a

  • Angela

    I have quietly loved your blog for two years but today I have to respond!
    Your family are so special and your father caught all our imaginations some
    time ago. To read you Kipling …. what else? – do tell! My favourite
    market stall in Paris is Joel Thiebault – the peppers alone are worth a
    story. Combined with a mention of your family it was such a delightful

  • andrew

    Here in melbourne, australia I have seen white zucchinis on sale in the market. They looked like paler versions of the regular zucchini, and were stouter in shape. I bought some and used them in a light salad with balsamic vinegar dressing – I thought they tasted a little mild. Has anyone else encountered them? What was your opinion of them?

  • sam


    my father is crazy about Kipling – he collects rare editions and took glee
    in reading us the just so stories too. I don’t think you could meet a man
    more kipling than my father is.

    I featured those Zephyr squash on my Blogathon day a couple of weeks ago. I
    tried to keep the colour feature evident by rolling up the ribbons to top
    some crostini:

  • given your penchant for zucchini (and really they get such a nasty end of summer the-last-over-talkative-guest-at-the-party-please-go-home reputation since their harvest is so prolific), have a look at the ones my parents grow in their garden – They are simply gorgeous tiny pattypans and they have redeemed the zucchini’s name at our local farmer’s market! We love them cubed and roasted in the oven with fresh herbs from the garden and chunks of beefsteak tomato tossed in to create a summer stew.

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.