Natchez-born author releases pecan book

Published 1:00 am Sunday, August 26, 2007

Speakers of English call them “pecans,” Native Americans referred to them as “pacanes,” Spanish explorers in the 16th century came to call them “pacanos,” the French colonists around New Orleans designated them as “pecanes” in the early 18th century. Basically, the Native Americans got it right — “pacane” is the Algonquin word for “nut too hard to be cracked by hand.” Some sources state the term to similarly mean “nut that must be cracked with a stone.”

In time for the fall pecan harvest and for holiday gift giving, “In Praise of Pecans” is aimed for an August 2007 debut. Written by June Jackson, a native Louisianian, born in Natchez, the book is a paean to our Native American nut. Celebrating the fact that the pecan is the only tree nut native to our country — all others having been imported — “In Praise of Pecans” both educates and entertains.

From the introduction, which wistfully recalls Jackson’s childhood spent picking out pecans for her mother’s candy making, to the candid discussion of the health aspects of pecans, the author evokes nostalgia and a desire to cook with pecans in order to improve our health.

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Her compendium of more than 100 sumptuous recipes includes the use of pecans in all categories of cooking. While reading the book, the reader enjoys encounters with appetizers, salads, sides, entrees, breads and desserts, written in a clear, concise style. As a bonus, each recipe includes a little story or anecdote that enhances one’s use of the recipes.

This hardcover book makes for good reading even for the non-cook, as Jackson’s history section brings us from the pecan’s first documented appearance about 8,000 years ago, through the Native Americans’ adroit use of the nut. Without their willingness to share their knowledge of the pecan’s desirability in their daily diet, many early colonists would have perished, both from starvation and illness.

Those concerned with health can use this book, as Jackson clearly has found delicious ways to improve diets with the daily incorporation of nutritious “doses” of pecans and their oil. To enhance the cook/reader’s enjoyment of her book, the publication is laden with artistic food photography by Watt Casey, Jr. This book is a treat to the eye as well as to the mind and palate.

This book will be invaluable to cooks, growers, shop owners, chefs, corporations looking for gift items and to just anyone looking for a good read. More than cookbook, memoir, “In Praise of Pecans” is a work of art, as well.

Jackson taught English in Louisiana, Maryland, creative writing for professionals for the U.S. Government Department of Agriculture; was a TV talk show host in the Washington, D.C., area; founded catering business “June Jackson’s Fun Foods for Good Times,” resulting in 10 retail products sold originally through Bloomingdale’s; and is the creator of Better Cheddar spread, in demand for over 30 years. She is also the author of The Showboat Cookbook; and is currently a real estate professional in Washington, D.C.


Bright Sky Press