Did you know that originally praline was roughly a sweet confection made of almonds and caramelized coating? Not Pecans…
Food Facts of Pralines:
Praline is a type of candy made from nuts and sugar syrup, whether in whole pieces or a ground powder.
Although the stories surrounding the creation differ, it is widely agreed that pralines are named after French diplomat from the early 17th century whose name and title was César, duc de Choiseul, comte du Plessis-Praslin.
French settlers brought this recipe to Louisiana, where both sugar cane and pecan trees were plentiful. During the 19th century, New Orleans chefs substituted pecans for almonds, added cream to thicken the confection, and thus created what became known throughout the American South as the praline.
In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, where there are many communities settled by the French, the pronunciation is prah-leen, with the long aaah sound. Other regions of the country, including parts of Texas, Georgia, and New England have anglicized the term and pronounce it pray-leen.
In Europe, the praline has evolved to an entirely different candy altogether. In Belgium and France, praline is a smooth paste of cocoa blended with finely ground nuts and used to fill chocolate bon-bons, but when it came to New Orleans it took another road.
Today’s Food History
1374 An outbreak of Dancing Mania (sometimes known as ‘St. John’s Dance’) occurred in Aix-la-Chapelle, France. People were overcome with bouts of uncontrollable, manic dancing. Frothing at the mouth, screaming, and sexual frenzy were other symptoms. Ergot (fungus) poisoning (from grain) is now believed to have been the ultimate cause.
1532 Robert Dudley, the earl of Leicester, was born.
Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
the cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport,
and the dish ran away with the spoon.
Dudley was Queen Elizabeth I’s first court favorite. She called him her ‘puppy.’ He is the dog who laughs in the nursery rhyme ‘Hey diddle diddle,’ when the dish runs away with the spoon, i.e., when Lady Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, ran away with the Queen’s taster, the Earl of Hereford, since he did not favor the tight reign Elizabeth kept on her court. He was also the step-father of her second lover, the Earl of Essex.
1817 The first coffee was planted in Hawaii on the Kona coast.
1839 Gustavus Franklin Swift was born. Founder of the meat-packing business, Swift & Co., the inventor of the refrigerated railway car, and the first to ship ‘dressed’ beef to eastern markets instead of live animals.
1895 Jack Dempsey was born. He is regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time. He held the world heavyweight title from 1919 to 1926. He then became a successful restaurateur in New York City.
2003 Richard Pough died. An American ecologist he was the founding president of the Nature Conservancy and helped found the World Wildlife Fund. In 1945, he was one of the first to warn about the dangers of DDT to fish and birds.