Take a turn with this member of the cucumber family and you’ll feel like doing the Brazilian tango that shares its name.

Found in Northeastern Brazilian salads and soups, and cooked with beef dishes, the maxixe, a vegetable very similar to cucumber (Cucumis sativus), is thought to have originated in Africa or possibly the West Indies, which is why it is also known as West Indian gherkin. Its sometimes prickly skin has also lent this cuke the name Bur cucumber. Red Tomato worked with Frank Mangan and Maria Moreira of the University of Massachusetts Department of Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences to bring maxixe to neighborhoods in the Northeast, as part of their effort to increase consumer access to locally grown world crops.


Select maxixe that are firm, heavy for their size, and unblemished. Look particularly for signs of softness or wrinkles at the ends, which is an indication of aging. Store maxixe unwashed in the refrigerator in a well ventilated plastic bag. Be careful not to keep your maxixe in the coldest part of your fridge, they prefer more moderate temperatures.

Photo: Alex Galimberti,