Posts Tagged With: New Orleans

193/365: National Pecan Pie Day

If you’re a little bit nuts, you’ll be proud to partake in today’s food holiday. July 12 is National Pecan Pie Day!

First off, in order to make sure you’re pronouncing things correctly, here’s a clip of Harry teaching Sally how to correctly order pecan pie.

Oh, how I love that movie.

Pecan is a Native American word used to describe any nut that requires a stone to crack. Which means that a pecan is a pecan, and a walnut is also a pecan, but a peanut is not a pecan.

Far out, man.

Pecan trees are the only nut trees native to North America. They originated in the central and eastern parts of the country, and were favored by pre-Colonial Americans because of their close proximity to natural waterways, their smooth and buttery flavor, and the fact that they weren’t “a tough nut to crack,” which is more than I can say about some of my ex-girlfriends. Every autumn, Native Americans would gather pecans to make a fermented drink called Powcohicora. They would then sit around a blazing hearth and get silly-ass drunk off of nut juice. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were so enamored of pecans, they planted trees in their gardens. New Orleans, at the mouth of the Mississippi River, became a crucial hub for marketing and distributing pecans throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world. French immigrants living in that city baked the first pecan pie, and the Karo company popularized the dessert by including pecan pie recipes on bottles of their corn syrup. It soon became a Southern staple, particularly around Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving may be months away yet, but that didn’t stop Tara and I from sharing a slice of pecan pie today. For breakfast. Neither of us had ever had it before. It was a little sweet for my tastes, and definitely had a maple flavor…which actually made it perfect with a cup of coffee. 

National Pecan Pie Day

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Categories: Desserts, Nuts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

175/365: National Pralines Day

Today’s food holiday is a little bit sweet and a little bit nutty. June 24 is National Pralines Day!

A praline is essentially a pecan that has been boiled in sugar until it turns crisp and brown. In some parts of the world, almonds are used. Pralines are popular additions to cookies, candy, ice cream, and chicken noodle soup.

Pralines are French in origin, and were named after the 17th century diplomat César, duc de Choiseul, comte du Plessis-Praslin. Talk about a mouthful. Dude-with-a-long-name’s personal chef, Clement Lassagne, actually created pralines after watching children scavenging leftover scraps of almonds and caramel from one of his pastries. Other versions of this story exist. In one, he followed the children, who had stolen almonds and heated them over a candle, caramelizing them. Or, one of his klutzy apprentices knocked over a container of almonds into a vat of caramel. Whatever the true story, pralines caught the fancy of many, and even though dude-with-a-long-name gets all the credit, Lassagne didn’t do too badly for himself. He opened a candy shop in France called Maison du Praslin which is still around to this day.

Pralines made their way with French settlers to New Orleans. Because almonds were in short supply, cooks began substituting nuts from Louisiana’s abundant pecan trees instead. Women who sold pralines on the streets of the French Quarter were known as Pralinières and were given the unique opportunity to sell their wares in order to earn a living. Women who sold “other things” on the streets of the French Quarter earned a living in other ways, but we won’t discuss that since this is a family blog. Since New Orleans was a busy port city, pralines spread around the country, and became a popular confection nationwide.

To celebrate the mighty praline, we stopped by Baskin Robbins for pralines and cream flavored ice cream. I had never had it before, and I’m not exaggerating at all when I say it was some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had!

National Pralines Day

Categories: Nuts | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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