Well, November is here, and with it comes more festivals with food, music, arts and crafts, and lots of fine eating. All I can say is ‘Yes, Louisiana folks are party hounds, love to get together, play music, dance and share our culture.’
This year will be the 23 rd year that the Bywater Neighborhood Association hosts the annual Mirliton Festival. The goal of this event is to highlight the Bywater neighborhood’s unique culture and share it with the rest of the city during a day of local music, food, and art.
The 2012 festival will be held on Saturday, November 3rd at the Brick Yard on Chartres Street at Montegut. It has been moved from the historic Mickey Markey Park due to construction at the park. The festival features the best in local cuisine, with local eateries offering dishes prepared with the mirliton, a unique vegetable native to the state of Louisiana.
Proceeds from the festival are put back into the community by supporting the Bywater Neighborhood Association and projects that it contributes to such as Alvar Arts, neighborhood beautification, Fringe Festival, Good Children’s Easter Parade, etc.
Here is a dish that is made from the Mirliton, I must say, it is not one of mine own, but I have made it, and it is delicious.
Crabmeat and Shrimp Stuffed Mirliton
Prep Time: 1 1/2 Hours
Yields: 6 Serving
Mirliton, which originated in Mexico, is known by many Americans as “chayote squash” or “vegetable pear” and by the French as “christophene.” The vegetable was brought to Bayou Country by the Canary Islanders, called “Los Isleños,” who relocated to Louisiana when Spain took ownership of New Orleans from France. This South Louisiana delicacy is wonderful when stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat.
6 mirlitons, sliced lengthwise
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1 pound (70–90 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ pound butter
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced celery
½ cup diced red bell peppers
¼ cup minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped basil
salt and black pepper to taste
Louisiana hot sauce to taste
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
12 pats butter
Preheat oven to 375°F. Boil sliced mirlitons in lightly-salted water 30–40 minutes or until meat is tender enough to scoop from shells. Once tender, remove from water and cool. Using a teaspoon, remove seeds and gently scoop all meat out of shell, being careful not to tear shell. Discard excess liquid accumulated while scooping meat. Reserve meat and save shells for stuffing. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Sauté onions, celery, bell peppers, garlic and basil 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Blend in shrimp and cook 2–3 minutes or until pink and curled. Mix in reserved meat from mirlitons and chop large pieces while cooking. Cook 15–20 minutes, stirring until flavors develop. After most of liquid has evaporated, remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, hot sauce and parsley. Fold in crabmeat, being careful to not break lumps. Sprinkle in approximately 1½ cups of bread crumbs to absorb any excess liquid and to hold stuffing intact. Divide mixture into 12 equal portions and stuff into hollowed-out shells. Place stuffed mirlitons on baking pan and sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs. Top each mirliton with 1 pat of butter. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve 1 mirliton half as a vegetable or 2 halves as an entrée.