This morning as I was making my roux for my gravy I started thinking about Thanksgiving past. This led to oyster dressing. Not something I eat, nor cook, but it was definitely something I grew up with.
My grandmother was from New Orleans and that was the only dressing she had ever had growing up, and this is what she made for her children. The pronunciation for oyster in her house and in many Louisiana homes is erster or ersta.
I can still see the big meat grinder sitting on the table and my grandmother putting in those oysters to grind up for her dressing. I would always say, "Ewww! How do you eat that!" But they lived for Thanksgiving and their oyster dressing. They talk sadly of how after they are gone there will be no one left to eat it for Thanksgiving as none of the grandchildren nor great grands will eat it.
What would ersta dressing be without stuffed mirlitons on the side? Which made me think of my mother and the mirliton search. My mother and aunt had to have their stuffed mirlitons. However here on the Mississippi Coast it wasn't as easy as finding them in Louisiana. Usually Delchamps had them, but if they didn't my mother would run all over asking for them. We always got the same reaction from the staff in the stores. What the heck is a mirliton??!! Which led my mother to try to explain what it looked like. One time an older fellow said "You mean vegetable pear. We have a few over here." Mother was quite puzzled over it being called thus, but she was like well now I know what to ask them for.
My mother and her siblings are in their mid to late 70's now and still they make a little pan of oyster dressing and a few stuffed mirlitons just for themselves. Maybe I will eventually make a pan of oyster dressing for my grandchildren, who knows they may actually eat it and the tradition will continue.
Here is a link to some Ersta Dressing
and some stuffed Mirlitons