It’s impossible these days to keep track of what is and isn’t good for you, but right now, let’s celebrate –– because pecans are on the “good list.” Chock-full of protein, vitamins, antioxidants and heart-healthy fats, pecans can help lower your cholesterol and control your weight. Sadly, butter, brown sugar and bourbon haven’t joined pecans as part of a healthy diet, so pralines and whiskey-laced pecan pie are still only occasional treats.
Although not invented here, pralines certainly are associated with New Orleans. And Louisiana plays an important role in pecan history: Antoine, a slave at Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, forever changed the pecan business when he grafted a superior wild pecan to an existing seedling. The resulting clone was called “Centennial” after it won an award for being the best pecan exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. This successful use of grafting led to orchards of superior genotypes.
So the next time you throw a handful of pecans in your chicken salad or bite into an Elmer’s Gold Brick Egg left over from Easter, say a quick thank you to Antoine.