in praise of the courgette

The courgette is an inconsistent friend. It can be wonderful in a frittata, a gratin or pasta sauce, or indeed turned into pasta itself in the modern fashion for ‘zucchini linguine’. But even slightly overcook it and it is mushy, and on occasion from dubious sellers may be bitter and quite disgusting. To maximise your chances of getting a good one, eat now: they are at their best until the end of September.

Of all the vegetables to grow yourself in the garden, the courgette should be top of your list, for then you can pick them when they’re still under 10 centimetres in length. The smaller, the better when it comes to this veg – you want them crunchy and sweet. While they are very young, you can even eat them raw in a salad, but let them swell for too long on the vine and you will be left with a marrow.

If shop-bought is the only option, use Jane Grigson’s handy tip: reject any whose skin is so tough it cannot be wrinkled easily with your fingernail; once it hardens, it is on its way to Marrowland. Courgettes, will usually be dark green in colour, but they come in lighter green shades too, and in markets you may come across deep yellow or orange varieties. None require peeling, just topping, tailing and then slicing as you please. Doing so on the diagonal can be useful to expose more of the flesh to flavourings and to the heat of the pan for quicker cooking.

The courgette has its biological origins in the Americas, before entering Italian cuisine in the 19th century, migrating to France and finally here. It is a variety of cucurbit, the same family as cucumber, melon and squash. Indeed, both Italians and French named it after the squash: the Italian word is zucca, for zucchini, and the French courge for courgette.

Elizabeth David first popularised the veg in this country and, for something unusual and exotic, try her take on the Sicilian dish zucchini agrodolce. Salt sliced courgettes in a colander for an hour, then cook in olive oil. When nearly tender, season with plenty of fresh black pepper, a little powdered cinnamon, wine vinegar and sugar. You will be left with a concentrated sweet and sour jus bathing your veg.

Courgettes can also be grated to use in a variation on bubble and squeak, or turned into summery fritters as the Turks, and Nigella, like to do. They can take the place of aubergines in a parmigiana or moussaka; you can make them into a simple Indian accompaniment, like Asma Khan’s courgette sabzi; or bake them around the roast chicken as you would potatoes, so they become caramelised and burst in hot, juicy mouthfuls.

You’ll have a refined canapé if you cut translucent-thin slices with a mandoline and then wrap around ricotta with walnuts and chargrilled peppers, as Gino D’Acampo explains. And try using them in baking too: to moisten cakes, in scones

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Former White House Staffer Zach Fuentes’ Denial Trump Called Fallen Troops ‘Losers’ Earns President’s Praise

President Donald Trump considers himself at the forefront of respect for service members and expressed gratitude to former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Zach Fuentes for denying a report that the president called fallen military members “losers.”



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a news conference at the North Portico at the White House on Monday in Washington, D.C. During the briefing, Trump thanked former White House deputy chief of staff Zach Fuentes for denying a story published in The Atlantic that said Trump called fallen service members "losers."


© Tasos Katopodis/Getty
President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a news conference at the North Portico at the White House on Monday in Washington, D.C. During the briefing, Trump thanked former White House deputy chief of staff Zach Fuentes for denying a story published in The Atlantic that said Trump called fallen service members “losers.”

Fuentes’ denial countered a story published in The Atlantic that Trump canceled a 2018 visit to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France because he didn’t consider honoring fallen war veterans as important. After having thanked Fuentes on Twitter, Trump told reporters during Monday’s briefing that he was “very happy” that the former White House staffer said the story wasn’t true.

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“Who would say a thing like that? Only an animal would say a thing like that,” Trump said. “There’s nobody that has more respect for not only our military but people who gave our lives in the military.”

Fuentes, who worked for former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, told Breitbart on Monday that he didn’t hear Trump say the cemetery, which is dedicated to Americans killed during World War I, was “filled with losers.” Declaring himself to be on the record, Fuentes told Breitbart he wasn’t one of the people who spoke to The Atlantic for the story and said Kelly wouldn’t have tolerated the comment.

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“Honestly, do you think General Kelly would have stood by and let ANYONE call fallen Marines losers?” Fuentes said.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Trump’s new coronavirus adviser uses made-up statistics and false claims to praise White House pandemic response

WASHINGTON — In a contentious interview on the BBC’s “Newshour,” the president’s new coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, said the United States had actually handled the coronavirus pandemic better than Europe, citing a discredited statistic of unknown origin.

In recent days, Atlas has eclipsed Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx as Trump’s most visible, and presumably trusted, coronavirus adviser. In that role he used his appearance on the BBC to defend aspects of the president’s widely criticized response to COVID-19.

Atlas is affiliated with the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University. An expert in brain imaging, he has no experience with pandemic response but appears to have parlayed his frequent appearances on Fox News into a White House appointment.

Confronted by the BBC interviewer regarding his lack of expertise, Atlas lashed out. “You know, I have to laugh at that,” he said, adding that it was “sort of silly” to think a virologist or immunologist was needed to deal with the pandemic.

Before joining the Trump administration, Atlas made statements that called into question his understanding of the virus. He backed the push by several Republican governors to reopen their states’ economies in early May, while most public health officials, including Fauci, were urging caution. Many states in the Sun Belt did reopen, only to see significant spikes in both infections and deaths.

Later, Atlas tried to blame those spikes on antiracism protests and on immigrants from Mexico. The view of most public health experts is that when governors took the approach Atlas advocated, newly reopened restaurants, bars and other venues quickly became sites of viral transmission.

Dr. Scott Atlas, Trump's recently appointed coronavirus adviser. (Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Dr. Scott Atlas, Trump’s recently appointed coronavirus adviser. (Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Atlas has supported the controversial strategy of allowing the virus to spread naturally until enough of the population — around 60 or 70 percent, by varying estimates — has been exposed to achieve what’s called “herd immunity,” at which point the epidemic should end on its own. That was Sweden’s goal in resisting the kinds of lockdowns most other nations instituted. That strategy failed. 

Despite having explicitly and repeatedly advocated for the herd immunity approach, Atlas denied being a herd immunity proponent to the BBC, echoing a similar denial he made on CNN earlier this week. “I have never, literally never, advised the president of the United States to pursue a strategy of herd immunity, of opening the doors and letting people get infected,” he said.

While the contents of his advice to the president are not known, his record on herd immunity is unambiguous. Writing in the Hill in April, Atlas said that “infected people without severe illness are the immediately available vehicle for establishing widespread immunity.” That was around the time that Trump and many Republican governors were first growing weary of lockdowns, though those had gone into effect only weeks before. 

Atlas was a proponent of that view. “The data is in — stop the panic and end the total isolation,” his Hill op-ed

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