Texas State Foods
The pecan, Carya illinoinensis, is native to the southern U.S. It grows on tall trees in thin, smooth, medium-brown oval to oblong shells. Inside, the nuts are reddish-brown, deeply grooved, and break easily into two halves. Pecans have a sweet, nutty flavor that makes them a favorite in desserts, especially chocolates or in sweets with caramelized sugar such as pralines and pecan pie. Butter pecan ice cream is a favorite in pecan-growing country, and pecans are also common additions to cakes, pies, and cookies.
Fossil remains show that in prehistoric times, pecans probably grew in the area that is now Texas. The nut was an important food source for the nomadic Native Americans who collected pecans every year in autumn and preferred to camp in areas with many pecan trees. Today, Texas grows about $60 million worth of pecans annually, making the nut important to the local economy as well as the local table.