By Norman Winter
California has its almonds and Florida its citrus, but from Thanksgiving through Christmas the pecan, the legendary horticultural crop of the South, is king. Indeed, it is legendary. As facts show, it was a crop eaten by Native American Indians long before explorers or settlers arrived.
Oddly, 1541 became a banner year in the history of the pecan thanks to men who took the time to write about their journeys. The first credit might best be given to Cabeza de Vaca because his exploration began earlier in 1529.
Unfortunately for him but great for pecan-lore is the fact Indians captured him on the coast of Texas. He, along with three others, survived the ordeal and was held captive until 1535. In his memoirs titled Relaciones, he reported the Native American Indians took him to a place called the ‘river of nuts’ that is now known as the Guadalupe River. Here he said the Indians survived on the nuts for two months with little else to eat.
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