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Mar 8, 2009 12:26 PM

calabaza? zapallo? tropical pumpkins

where can i find tropical pumpkins (known as ayote, zapallo or calabaza) in nyc? the one i had was from dominican republic. they look like this attached photo.

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  1. NYC is a big place. Those items are sold all over. In Manhattan, a number of fruit/veg stands on 9th ave sell those. They are sold all over Washington Heights, even in the grocery stores. As for the Bronx, Queens and BK, the items are ubiquitious in Caribbean and Spanish neighborhoods.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ora

      where on 9th ave? any specific locations would be great. i'm in midtown.

    2. I've seen calabaza in Chinatown, Chelsea Market, Patel Bros., even random bodegas. Those squashes are eaten in tropical climates across the globe so they shouldn't be too hard to find. Oftentimes you will find them quartered and wrapped in Styrofoam and plastic.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JungMann

        i've seen the ones in chinatown that are kabocha. the ones i saw in the caribbean are a bit different. they're larger and way more orange on the inside.

      2. I used to get these at Korean fruit and vegetable stores on the Upper West Side. They are very widely available.

        1. here's a picture of what i'm looking for. it's on the back of the truck on the left:

          and when it's cut open it looks like this:

          3 Replies
          1. re: midtownDiner123

            Have you actually looked for this on 9th Avenue? There is an African/Intl market in the mid 40s and a veg stand in the low 50s, both on the western side of the street--these are two stores that have it for sure. But, it will be pre-cut and wrapped in plastic. They aren't sold whole here. Honestly, this is not hard to find in Latin/Caribbean markets throughout the city. My mother makes soup with this type of pumpkin all year long and she's in Hells Kitchen. I see it all over Washington Heights markets on Bway. So it is not hard to find.

            1. re: Ora

              great!!! it looks like the one in my pics then? and not the japanese kind? i'm going to look in the areas you said - mid 40s and 9th ave and low 50s this weekend. if you want to post the recipe, please do : ) thanks.

              1. re: Ora

                hi ora, i went to the west african market and found the cut up squashes and bought one but it actually turned out to have a pale yellow skin not like the one i want. after walking up ninth ave from 38th-50th i didn't see any more markets that sold fruit really- just small bodegas. i found one place, la mazzalla or something (?) that had the same squash as the west african market which is this:

                could you ask your mom where she buys hers in hell's kitchen please? thanks so much!

            2. OK, I finally remembered to ask my Mom. She says it can be found at a bodega/fruit stand on the corner of 52nd St & 9th Ave on western side of the street. She says sometimes its the green calabaza, sometimes they only have the beige calabaza. She says in soup, the taste is not distinguishable between the green or beige. She says you can get the green more regularly in the Bronx at a veg stand on 218 & White plains road or at stands in the 220s and White Plains Rd. She says the green can be found in Manhattan, but it is hit or miss. It will be cut up whereever you find it in NY. It is generally not sold whole. She says examine it carefully wherever you find it because it is not always great quality.

              Once I found a specular piece of Calabaza at a ShopRite in Stamford, believe it or not. I've have not been so lucky in a very long time.

              Good luck hunting.

              1 Reply