According to the sign next to this nut, Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca was the first European to describe the pecan, noting they were “good food”. Apparently, he had plenty of time to get familiar with the nut since he was held captive along the Guadalupe River for nine years.
Built in 1962, this statue is five feet long, two and a half wide, and weighs in at 1,000 pounds. For comparison, I placed an actual pecan and some nut meat that I found nearby on top. This is undisputedly my favorite pecan ever!
Let me tell you why: We had pecan trees when I was a kid and while gathering the nuts was a fun scavenger hunt, the shelling was excruciating. The tedious, messy, and finger-staining job fell to me. As Thanksgiving and its promise of pie neared, my weekend was shot. Seated at the picnic table, I had a 5-gallon bucket of pecans on my right, an empty one on the other side, and in front of me on the table sat the weapon of torture; the Texas Nutcracker.
This contraption was a gift from my favorite Aunt to Dad one Christmas. To say I did not think fondly of her when using it is an understatement. The procedure: pull back slider, insert pecan length-wise into grooved bed, attach the two heavy-duty rubber bands firmly around the peg on the base and the slider mechanism, pull the slider back six inches, (ooh, and this part is important) remember to move fingers before releasing slider.
With a loud snap, the slider pounded into the hard shell. If all went well, my fingers did not get pinched, pieces of shell did not fly out and scrape my skin, and the shell was cracked enough for me to pry it open and retrieve the mostly intact nutmeat halves (which Mom strongly preferred over pieces).
The spent shell I dropped into the empty bucket, destined to return to the tree as mulch. Ah, but I was not yet done, I still had to carefully remove the dark and bitter-tasting pith from the deep grooves in the nutmeat. Finally, the finished product plinked into the bottom of a large stainless steel bowl. One nut done; hundreds or thousands (it felt like millions) of nuts to go. It should come as no surprise that I still abhor pecans (and detest pecan pie).