Kalbas grandi

The calabash is an incredibly versatile and resourceful plant. It has been used for centuries by the indigenous inhabitants of Curaçao and newcomers for eating bowls, and numerous art and crafts.

Large calabashes like this one are called kalbas di hòfi (garden calabashes). After drying for months, the peel of this green, non-edible fruit becomes brown and hard. Calabash was used for transporting, collecting and storing water way before there was any pipe-borne water supply. When drums were outlawed for enslaved Africans, they invented the bastèl, which is a large calabash in a water barrel.

The dried peel of the calabash can also be opened to take out the flesh and juice. These are known as a herbal medicine for respiratory problems and are used to make strop´i kalbas, a local coughing syrup. Furthermore the juice is used to bathe dogs and protect their fur against fleas. The calabash is even used to make a candy called karabobo.

“It has been used and shaped for centuries by the indigenous inhabitants of Curaçao.”