The late O'Neil Broyard of the Saturn Bar in New Orleans
Last Saturday's symposium talk on the endangered Louisiana mirliton (also known as vegetable pear or chayote squash), reminded us of our 2005 oral history interview with the late O'Neil Boryard, who operated the Saturn Bar in New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood.
We visited with Broyard as part of our Bartenders of New Orleans project. What we found was far more than an eccentric barkeep. Broyard was a man who was passionate about his friends, his neighborhood, and the garden he kept in the back of his beloved Saturn Bar. From the interview:
I just started fooling around, you know. Like I eat an orange or something, put a couple seeds back there--kumquats, lemons, maybe a navel orange, Satsumas, all that shit like that, you know. And I let it start to come up…And one year back there I had fifty-one tomato plants. I used to pick the tomatoes in the morning, and put them in a beer box to share…Put them in a box, let people take them…Especially the mirlitons. The mirlitons, I used to pick them and put them up there and let them take what they want. That’s all mirliton plants I got back there. And I go plant them over there. I’m gonna go plant some on the side there. I got a lemon tree outside. I got a grapefruit tree outside. I got a peach tree. Japanese plum tree. And Satsuma tree. Yeah.We're glad to be reminded of Broyard during this year of the Cultivated South.
* * *
Go here to read the rest of our interview with O'Neil Broyard.
Go here to listen to Sara Roahen's recent symposium presentation on the mirliton, the "underdoggiest of vegetables."