Last Modified: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 4:58 PM
Name a fruit that was a hot item among the Aztecs and Mayans that eventually made its way to Louisiana and is a delicacy among the Islenos in St. Bernard Parish.
Here is a hint.
This rascal is wonderful when stuffed with rice and seafood.
Have not figured it out?
Well, this week our focus is on the chayote, also known in south Louisiana as the mirliton.
In case you have not seen a mirliton, it is described by the “Food Lover’s Companion” as a “fruit about the size and shape of a very large pear. Beneath its furrowed, pale green skin is a white, rather bland-tasting flesh surrounding one soft seed.”
According to Slow Food USA, mirlitons were probably brought to Louisiana from Haiti during the 1804 slave revolt and eventually became a staple ingredient in Creole and Cajun cooking.
What you may not know is that according to Dr. Lance Hill, executive director of Tulane University’s Southern Institute for Education and Research, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav, devastated Louisiana’ mirliton population. Efforts are being made to insure the food does not disappear from Louisiana’s culinary history.
Hill started a website named www.mirliton.org. The site provides information on how mirlitons can be grown and prepared.
“In 2008, Hill initiated the Adopt-A-Mirliton project in partnership with the Crescent City Farmers Market as a vehicle to distribute hundreds of free heirloom mirlitons to growers throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Plant recipients are asked to donate half their crop to re-establish the Louisiana heirloom mirliton,” the website states.
What follows is recipe that features the fruit that some folks refer to as the “climbing quash.”
Enjoy and think about taking part in an effort to make sure future generations will be able to enjoy a part of our history.
• 3 mirlitons (seed removed), cooked, peeled, mashed
• 1 stick butter, softened
•3/4 cup sugar
• 1 cup Bisquick
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 1 cup pecan pieces
Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 494-4090.