"I just clipped 2 articles from a current magazine. One is a diet guaranteed to drop 5 pounds off my body in a weekend. The other is a recipe for a 6 minute pecan pie."
-- Erma Bombeck
About a decade ago, and just about this time of year, I spent some days having an adventure in the American South. Oklahoma, to be precise. I was there with a small group to attend a business conference. Well, unfortunately, the business never did pan out for any of us, I've completely lost contact with all but one of my fellow travellers, and I don't remember a single thing about the conference. But the rest of my springtime trip to Oklahoma is still a delightful memory.
And speaking of memories, the very first thing we did upon our arrival in Oklahoma City was to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and pay our respects. It is a beautifully and sensitively created and well kept site - a very serene and elegant tribute. Although the Memorial was outdoors, as we approached it, it felt as though we were entering a majestic cathedral and it was impossible to speak above a soft whisper.
Next we took a bus trip to view the company's future building site. This was a little underwhelming as it was simply a chunk of land in the distant countryside. And, at least from my perspective, the 'rolling green hills of Oklahoma' were neither very green nor very rolling.
Well, after the 'viewing' we were all bussed to a large facility of some sort - like an enormous catering hall filled with simple tables and chairs. Along one wall was the bustling open kitchen with a long counter running across in front of it.
We all stood in line with thick paper plates and each server would ladle out a portion of the various food items. It will come as no surprise to you that the number one item on the menu was 'barbecue'. Great steaming mounds of saucy barbecued pork covered about three-quarters of each plate. That left a small space to be filled with creamy potato salad and bright green cole slaw, along with a soft plump bun slathered with butter.
I found myself suddenly at the end of the line, still with an empty plate in my hands. As a vegetarian, the barbecue was, of course, off limits to me. And as a perennial (although not wildly successful) weight watcher, I didn't fancy the potato salad or cole slaw with all that mayonnaise. And a white bun covered in butter? No, thanks.
A woman at the counter apparently noticed my plight and called over to me, "How're y'all doin' there, honey? Can I get y'all some barbecue?" I asked her if there were, by any chance, a vegetarian option? Well, quite clearly, this was a question she had never been asked before. She turned around to face the kitchen and called (very loudly): "Hey! Billy Bob! We all got us a veg-e-tar-i-an here!!" Suddenly about half a dozen kitchen workers dropped what they were doing and stepped a little closer in order to better eye up such a strange creature.
Some folks around me were chuckling, but my face was as red as the ubiquitous barbecue sauce. In my embarrassment at being centred out in this foreign environment, I found my decision-making skills being sharpened up quickly.
I immediately opted for the boring and horribly fattening meal of potato salad, cole slaw and an enormous white bun with its lashings of butter. And I can't say I enjoyed the cup of coffee in the styrofoam cup that came at the end of the meal.
However, I did rationalize that since my diet had been blown completely, and I was there to experience what I could of the Southern culture, I was jolly well going to have dessert. And it turned out to be a very good decision.
The kitchen ladies served up hearty slices of homemade pecan pie. Deliciously golden slices with the creamiest filling and freshly roasted pecans which had been picked from local trees. It was a little slice of pecan heaven right there in rural Oklahoma.
As far as I'm concerned, the "Okies" can keep their barbecued pork and their various side 'fixins' all to themselves. But I really would enjoy another slice of that wonderfully sinful pecan pie. I may never get back to Oklahoma but I'm hoping to visit South Carolina before too long. I will definitely have to keep my northern eyes open for a sighting of this truly decadent Southern treat. And then I'll be looking for a nap.
After reading this story, you may just have a craving to cook up a nice Southern pecan pie. But since it's the end of March here in Canada, why not add a little northern touch and make this luscious "Maple Pecan Pie". I hope you enjoy it!