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The mirliton is always the first to go.

In a single night, yards and yards of the vine’s robust and sprawling greenery become woeful ribbons of mush. It’s subtropical, a native of Central America, and even a minor freeze — so slight as to be entirely ignored by the perky pea vines that share its trellis — will finish it off.

Which means, with the local forecast threatening 19-degree nights, we had merliton for lunch. Mark’s recipe is inspired by memories of meals he enjoyed at his grandmother’s house in New Orleans. He slices the merliton and lightly sautees it. Then, after being dipped in egg wash and dredged in Italian breadcrumbs, the slices are browned in hot oil. We ate them with the green tomato relish we canned during the summer garden harvest. Heavenly!

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