Pecan Pie"Pecan" is from an Algonquian word meaning a nut requiring a stone to crack, but that native tribe obviously wasn't familiar with the modern paper-shell hybrids. The tree is native to the South Central United States and grows all the way from Illinois to Veracruz, Mexico. Pecan production first started as a commercial operation by merely gathering native nuts and selling them to the highest bidder. Texas native pecans were shipped to Europe for sale as early as 1840, and today, Texas averages 60 million pounds of pecans annually, divided equally between natives and orchard-grown hybrids. Texas is the largest producer of native pecans and second only to Georgia in the production of hybrid varieties.
The nut is so popular in Texas that in 1919 the Texas Legislature made the pecan the state tree. In 1909, Gov. James S. Hogg asked that a pecan tree be planted as his headstone so the nuts could be sent all over Texas to be planted, making it a "land of trees." Some call the pecan the miracle tree, producing not only good strong wood for furniture and cooling shade in the heat of summer but also nuts that can reduce cholesterol. Majestic in the landscape, it produces a wood quite worthy for barbecuing, it keeps our seniors out of trouble (by gathering and cracking nuts), but more importantly, the pecan makes a damn fine pie.
A Texas pecan pie should have a rich, flaky crust, and the filling needs to be primarily nuts and not just a bunch of goopy gelatinized filling with a thin layer of nuts on top. It should taste like roasted pecans, with a buttery brown-sugar flavor that isn't too sweet. It should be served by someone friendly who has either a drawl, a twang, or both. And if you're lucky, it will be warm, with a scoop of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla nestled next to it. For great local versions, try these. – M.V.
The Old Pecan St. Cafe310 E. Sixth, 478-2491
The only pie the restaurant makes.
Texas Pie Kitchen9702 Ochiltree Dr., 491-5227
Great pies from a nonprofit opening a pie shop to employ and train neighborhood folks with barriers to employment.
R.O.'s Outpost BBQ22112 Hwy. 71 W., Spicewood, 512/264-1169
Kathy Osban's pies are the stuff of legend!
Texas Pie Co.
Place orders at 491-5227 or www.texaspiecompany.com
Wimberley Pie Co.13619 RR 12, Wimberley, 512/847-9462