Deb Erika Gets Dressed

Erika MarksTo me, food is a social experience– a way for people to share their history, their passions, their traditions.

So when I spent my first Thanksgiving with my husband’s family in New Orleans, already knowing they were exceptional cooks, I was excited to experience all kinds of new dishes. Growing up in Maine, we always had stuffing, but as the holiday neared, I didn’t hear a word about stuffing on the menu, but my husband assured me there would be lots of dressings. I thought, Great! I love salad–who wouldn’t want a variety of dressings, right?

Wrong!

It turns out that dressings are the region’s name for stuffing. And their dressings can come in a variety of flavors. (You might want to go get a drool cup. No, really. I’ll wait.) There is garlic-green bean dressing, oyster dressing, cornbread dressing, and then there’s my very, very favorite: shrimp and mirliton dressing.

Now you all know what a shrimp is. But allow me to introduce you to a proud member of the squash family you may not be as familiar with.

I present to you the magnificent, the mighty, the Mirliton.

Is that great, or what?

I mean, just look at it! Have you ever known a food-item with this much character? (If you have, feel free to attach a pic. I’d like to see it.) fact, the mirliton is so cool, so spunky, it even has its own Festival every year!

Now when it comes to taste, mirliton aren’t overpowering—they have a mild, starchy flavor–but boy are they great to look at before they are boiled and cubed for the dish.

And speaking of the dish…this is what it looks like finished:

Making it isn’t hard–it’s simply a matter of sauteeing shrimp and frozen artichoke hearts with celery, onion, salt and pepper–then blending that mixture with shrimp stock (or fish stock if you don’t want to make your own), cubed and boiled mirliton and bread crumbs in a casserole dish, then bake.

This year will find us breaking tradition and having Thanksgiving in a new place with new foods, and most likely, Mirliton-less. But I have a feeling if I plead, my husband could be coerced into making some when we return. How else can we have mirliton dressing sandwiches, mirliton dressing hash, mirliton dressing pot pie, mirliton dressing…?

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So tell me, dear friends–what favorite dishes will be gracing your Thanksgiving tables?

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9 thoughts on “Deb Erika Gets Dressed

  1. Oh, my gosh! How have I never seen a mirliton before? I don’t care what it tastes like, it is now officially my new favorite food. Because, really, what could possibly beat how that sucker looks?

    Um, how do you pronounce mirliton, anyway? Because if its my new favorite food, I really should know how to say it right.

    As for our Thanksgiving table — mmmm. All the usual suspects (turkey, dressing (both oyster and plain), mashed potatoes & gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, cranberry sauce, etc., etc. until we burst). Best of all? It’s at the in-laws’ house, and all we have to bring is a side dish. (I KNOW! Try not to hate me.) Our dish is always the green bean casserole, but TG does it up special with his own recipe. (I’d share it with you, but you don’t really think I pay attention to what he’s doing in the kitchen, do you?)

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Erika! Even if it’s mirliton-free. 🙂

    • Isn’t it awesome!? It’s pronounced Murl-i-tawn. Not only does it have a great look but it has a great sound rolling off the tongue–what’s not to love!?

      Are you kidding–I think your plans sound perfect! Something tells me you’ve made your share of Thanksgiving dinners–you deserve something low-key, yes! And I love that TG cooks up the bean casserole! But I’m sure you do your part to make the season bright, too… 😉

      • Honestly? We have hosted exactly one Thanksgiving dinner since we’ve been married. It was our first year of wedded bliss, and we had bought our first house. We wanted to use our (tiny) new dining room, and the wedding china.

        Thank God we got THAT out of our system. Once was enough. 😉

  2. That mirliton looks like the lips that should open Rocky Horror! Or a brain that talks on a show like Pee Wee’s Playhouse! I can’t handle it.

    My fave Thanksgiving dish has always been mashed potatoes. When I switched from Thanksgiving with my fam to my in-laws, I had to special request them. My mother in law always made mashed sweet potatoes, which are delish, but I couldn’t give up my favorite dish. So now, she has to make both! I feel bad, but if I’m going to give up my family, I at least deserve my favorite food right??

  3. I think I need to have another Thanksgiving with you ladies. I’ve never heard of merlitons before, but count me in. I’ll bring some stuffing, because that’s what we make here. 😉

  4. Oh yeah, you need your mirliton stuffing for the post-Thanksgiving meals — which I love more than dinner on the actual day! I agree with Rachel–those are some lips on that squash!

  5. Thanks everyone for all the mirliton love–and yes, that’s some pucker on that sucker, huh?

    Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday, whatever treats are on your table!!

  6. You can certainly see your skills within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

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