That funny looking vegetable is called a mirliton (not the kitty, it's called Toots!) Growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana I quickly learned that this was one veggie to be raised high, honored, and cooked especially on major holidays. While the rest of the world concentrated on their thanksgiving turkey or holiday ham, we talked about who was making the shrimp mirliton. We pronounced it all kinds of funny ways like 'mella-tah' or 'merl-ee-taw' but never how it is actually spelled.
Funny thing is, I have no memory of actually eating a mirliton - only hearing about it, like some kind of legend, about as real as unicorns and fairies. So I asked my mom if she would mail me some so that I could try and grow them up here in North Carolina - she was happy to oblige, picking up a few at Whole Foods on Magazine Street in New Orleans. She asked around and some friends told her that in order to grow them, you have to just let them sprout on their own, in a paper bag... kinda like letting potatoes make their tubers (even though a mirliton is a type of squash, like butternuts!) So I have been letting my 4 mirlitons sit... and guess what? Two already started to sprout in a matter of a few weeks!!! YAY! (See pic below)
Go HERE for a traditional Louisiana stuffed mirliton recipe... ( I so wanna alter this recipe and make up my own gluten free/macrobiotic/yummy stuffing!)
"Although most people are familiar only with the fruit, the root, stem, seeds, and leaves are all edible. The fruit does not need to be peeled and can be eaten raw in salads. Cooked or raw, it has a very mild flavor by itself, and is commonly served with seasonings (e.g., salt, butter and pepper in Australia) or in a dish with other vegetables and/or flavorings. It can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried, or pickled in escabeche sauce. Both fruit and seed are rich in amino acids and vitamin C. Fresh green fruit are firm and without brown spots or signs of sprouting. Smaller ones are more tender." -wikiXoXo