Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mellytawn Festival

I think I was in high school before I discovered how ridiculously mangled my pronunciation of mirliton was.

It was in the middle of a conversation about who-can-possibly-recall that I said it, which completely derailed my geeky friend, Anthony.

"What did you just say?"

"We ate mellytawns from my grandmother's back yard," I repeated.

His crumpled face was probably a reflection of the data logjam in his brain and I waited while he closed his eyes and struggled to untangle my words into something he could recognize. I would have not at all been surprised had he blurted, "That does not compute!" in a robotic monotone.

Of course, at first I did not know what I had said that has seized him so. It actually took a few moments for him to parse my statement down to the single word at issue and for him to communicate this back to me.

Finally, he brightened with resolution. "Oh, you mean mirliton!"

Again I repeated it the way I had always pronounced it, the way I had always heard it, the only way I knew to refer to the water-laden, spiny green vegetable that my grandmother served baked and filled with stuffing.

Again my friend corrected me, telling me how it was spelled and urging me to look it up in a dictionary.

Well, I did look it up, and sure enough I discovered that my friend and my dictionary were both wrong!

I thought of this silly moment in my life again when I heard that it's almost time for this year's Mirliton Festival. It's coming on Saturday, November 7 at Markey Park in Bywater. Bands, art and of course, lots of local food including some featuring that funny little mellytawn that as far as I can tell only shows up on tables in New Orleans.

All are invited, but if you see my old friend Anthony, be careful what you say.

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