I certainly ate a fair number of them when living in Papua New Guinea, but I only saw them in gardens and bought them at market rather than growing them myself. Local lore over there says your can't sing or play music during planting season or they won't grow!
They don't need a lot of water, but they need water at just the right time in the growing cycle. They like well aerated loam and can grow on hillsides or flat lands, as long as you give the vine a trellis grow up. According to the USDA they are grown in Louisiana, Georgia and Florida. I'd be interested in hearing if you grow some.