Local Flavor at the 2013 NOLA Bywater Mirliton Festival

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Just when you think you’ve seen it all from New Orleans, something comes up to make you shake your head… and join in just for the fun of it!

And it is in this spirit that we bring to you the Bywater neighborhood’s Mirliton Festival, coming up on Saturday, November 9, 2013!

So what is a mirliton (locally pronounced mel-a-tonn), anyway?  Also known as a Cahyote, Mango Squash, or Vegetable Pear, the mirliton is a pear-shaped member of the squash family with a mild flavor similar to that of Summer Squash.  With origins in Central America, mirliton were a staple food source for the Aztecs.  Their tendency to ripen in November makes them a staple addition to the Thanksgiving table here in Louisiana.

Here in the south, mirliton are often lightly sauteed to retain its delicate flavor.  However like so many other vegetables, you can also boil, mash, bake, fry, or even pickle this rather odd squash.  It can be incorporated into breads like zucchini, added to pies, or even eaten raw.  Even the plant’s young leaves, shoots, and roots are edible!  The roots are similar to potatoes, and young leaves and shoots are popular additions to salads, sandwiches, and stir-fry.

While it isn’t one of our larger events, it is certainly one of the more unique.  Besides delicious edible mirliton dishes of all types, you’ll also find art by some of the area’s artists (some of it mirliton-inspired!) including handcrafted jewelry, woodworking, ceramics, art from reclaimed materials, folk art, painting and graphic art, metalwork, textiles, and so much more.  And it isn’t a NOLA festival without great local music featured on the Festival stage all day!  At least a half dozen local favorites will treat your ears to a variety of genres.

Since 1989, the festival has been delighting locals and guests.  As one of New Orlean’s more “creative” areas, the Bywater neighborhood is home to many artists, writers, musicians, and other creative minds.  Why not give it a try during your stay at Avenue Inn?  Bywater is just a mile downriver (east) of the French Quarter, making it a great side-stop during your visit downtown.    The festival can be found at Mickey Markey Park at the corner of Piety and Royal streets.  Attend for the sheer uniqueness, stay for the food and fun!

Please note that there is a small admission fee to attend ($5 last year…).

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