© Stephanie Meyer
In the Zimmern house, when the weather turns steamy in Minneapolis, we always keep a glass pitcher of cold soup in the fridge. We alternate between my gazpacho recipe and this cucumber yogurt soup of Turkish origin. While everyone thinks of cukes as an American farmhouse staple, Turkey is the third-largest producer of cukes in the world.
Charlemagne grew cucumbers, and so do I. I’m sure you do as well and that makes us all part of the same giant line of cuke growers, descending down through history. I love that stuff. Cucumbers originated in India, where they’ve been cultivated for at least 3,000 years. They were brought to Europe by either the Greeks or the Romans, who worshipped cukes, growing them in the world’s earliest hothouses called specularia.
Cucumbers then made their way to France in the 9th century, to England by the 14th century, and finally to North America by the mid-16th century. In the US, the tribes of the Midwestern plains learned to grow crops like cukes from the Spaniards; the Mandan supposedly got their seeds from the Spaniards as well as the Iroquois. Later on, in the 1700s, people thought that uncooked plants caused illness and cucumbers earned the nickname "cowcumbers" because they were thought to be fit for only animal feed. Luckily for us, in the post-Colonial period, that attitude subsided, and cucumbers have been an American mainstay ever since. Now we make pickled-cuke salad, buttermilk-dressed cukes and Chinese steamed cukes with pork and oyster sauce. As for the cucumber soup, we make it by the gallon.