Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mirliton: Holding My Own Louisiana Tradition

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


Amestress said...

Do you think anyone could grow them, or does it take a particular climate to do so? How about Michigan (cold), for example? Are you growing them indoors or out?

I'm in awe that the United States grows a fruit that I've never heard of. It makes me wonder if there are even more that I've never heard of.

Lou Cheese said...

I have butternuts. I mean squash....yeah, that's it.

Custom t-shirts said...

I didn't see this vegetable before. Its very strange for me. But however thanks for sharing.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Amestress --->
Isn't it cool to find something new to eat and grow? I am thinking they won't grow well too far north, or in colder climates - trying to grow them here in western north carolina might be pushing it... but i like to push the envelope when it comes to gardening.
I think in doors *could* happen if you had a REALLY sunny window and about 8-15 feet of trellis to grow it on - it'll vine out like crazy, just like gourds and squash.
That would be rad to have growing in your room. :)

Lou Cheese --->

CTS --- Your welcome.

Kittie Howard said...

My grandfather grew mirliton on the farm. My grandmother stuffed with Dis and Dat, all mouth-watering delicious. I sometimes just boil it, keep it in the frig for a snack. Hope your mirliton runs forever!

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

MMmmm, Kittie...i hope mine grows good too, even though this climate is a little less hot then back home in Louisiana!
Boiling it for a snack sounds so good. Maybe I should have my mom send me a few more, just to eat in the meantime ;)