The pecan is a native of
North America, and was a prized food of the Native American tribes. It was being cultivated in by Spanish settlers at least half a century before the first known planting in the future Mexico – in USA Long Island in 1772. Production of the nut on a significant commercial scale did not develop until made possible by horticultural developments in the 1880’s. The centres for this new industry were and Louisiana - which perhaps explains one reader’s answer to the omission made by Ms Paddleford - that the Thanksgiving pies in the South are “pumpkin and pecan.” Texas
A very short spell of research turned up the inclusion of pecans in a ‘cream’ in the Lady’s Receipt Book of 1847, and in a cake in La Cuisine Creole in 1885. No pie. A snippet in a Galveston Newspaper of July 1910 seems to suggest that pecan pie was a relatively new idea then:
“Never ate a piece of pecan pie? Lots of us are in the same fix, but those familiar with the pecan say thare is nothing more delicious than a pecan pie, which is a custard pie in which are blended the ground kernels of pecans.”
The first actual recipe I have turned up so far (until I can find the one in Harper’s Bazaar), is in an
newspaper (The Piqua Daily Call) of Ohio May 3, 1915.
Cook together one cupful of sweet milk, one cupful of sugar, three well-beaten eggs, one tablespoonful of flour and one cupful of finely chopped pecan meats. Line a pie tin with rich crust, fill with the mixture, and bake until done. Whip the whites of two eggs with two tablespoonfuls of sugar until stiff, spread over the top of the pie and brown slightly in the oven, sprinkling a few chopped nuts over the top.
Quotation for the Day …
What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?