Botanical name: Lagenaria siceraria
Gourds are an old world member of the CUCURBITACEAE family which also includes pumpkins. The plant grows as a vine and produces fruits which vary in shape, size, skin thickness, taste and use depending upon the variety. Gourds fall into two categories, Edible gourds and bottle gourds.
The use of gourds within the SCA time period can be traced back to at least to the Carolingian era where they are mentioned in Walahfrid Strabos poem the hortulus. They recieve a mention in the following collections of recipes, the Goodman of Paris, Forme of Cury, Libro di cucina and Libre del Coch. The growing of Gourds is covered at length in The Gardeners Labyrinth by Thomas Hill who mentions that they grow in a similar manner to cucumbers and can be preserved for use over winter(1).
Gourds are used in the same way as squash zuchinni or courgettes, they have a semi clear flesh with a very mild flavour. Squash or zucchini could be easily substituted. The seeds for this vegetable are available through several seed merchants in Lochac.
(1) Walahfrid Strabo. Hortulus. Tr. by Raef Payne; commentary by Wilfrid Blunt 1966. Hunt facsimile series, no. 2. Pittsburgh: Hunt Botanical Library.
(2) Hill, Thomas, b. ca. 1528. "The gardener's labyrinth" / Thomas Hill ; edited with an introduction by Richard Mabey. Oxford University Press, 1987.