Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hubig's Pies can satisfy your sweet tooth

I've been afraid of fruit pies since I was told most of them are years old and filled with preservatives. Or maybe it was the association between Hostess fruit pies and Dan White's Twinkie defense - not everyone will understand this allusion. But now that I've discovered Hubig's Pies, I've put those primal fears behind me, and I can appreciate those sugary fruit treats.

One of the fun things about New Orleans is that there are still regionally made products. We've got Zapp's Potato Chips and Big Shot sodas too.

Apple, lemon, peach, pineapple, chocolate and coconut pies can be found in convenience stores and Walgreens to quickly satisfy a hunger snap. Created at the beginning of World War I, they've survived the decades - and Katrina - are are still made daily in the Faubourg Marigny.

Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose discusses the rediscovery of Hubig's Pies as a dessert offered at a New Orleans' landmark restaurant:

When It Comes to Eating, Everything's Relative

In N.O., a string runs through everything from duck confit to Hubig's pies

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
By Chris Rose

Everyone knows somebody like this: You ask a guy what time it is and he tells you how to build a clock.

In polite parlance, this is called the gift of gab. In New Orleans, it's called a way of life.

And that's how a simple inquiry as to the provenance of a very basic dessert dish at the new Li'l Dizzy's Cafe on Poydras Street elicited from chef Kevin Belton a discourse on the relativity of New Orleans cuisine, all matter being intertwined, six degrees of separation and all that.

He has a business card that says: Kevin Belton, Human Taxidermist, and if I need to explain the joke, then never mind. Put it this way: The recent entry of Li'l Dizzy's to the CBD breakfast and lunch market -- with offerings such as crabmeat-and-cheese omelets, "7th Ward Chops" and the famed Trout Baquet (restaurateur Wayne Baquet is Belton's partner in the restaurant, an offshoot of the original Li'l Dizzy's on Esplanade Avenue) -- has re-awakened the appetites of local businesspeople.

And that's why the only entrée on the menu that isn't a hot dog is Frito Pie, and the only sides on the menu are Zapp's and Chee Wees. And the only dessert at Big Easy Dogs is Hubig's Pie.

Not just any Hubig's Pie, but Hubig's Pie a la mode, with whipped cream and a cherry and sprinkles on top.

Belton was beside himself the first time he saw this.

"Whoever thought of putting ice cream on a Hubig's Pie?" he said. "Maybe I've lived a sheltered life, but it was new to me."

Maybe a guy can think about things like mango-infused duck confit with a basil/merliton reduction sauce for so long that he loses sight of the fundamentals, fundamentals like pie + ice cream = good.

It got him thinking about the possibilities associated with the simple but stoic Hubig's Pie, the quintessential New Orleans everyman's treat. One day, the staff at Big Easy Dogs gave him a box of pies to take home and experiment on and that's when he came up with the bread pudding.

A few weeks ago, he put it on Li'l Dizzy's menu. And closed the circle that winds from a Bywater bakery to old Gretna to the crazy new dessert sensation that has all the suits downtown talking -- the ever-expanding suits, I should add.

It's a purely New Orleans story. Just don't ask Kevin Belton to tell it to you.

Unless you've got a lot of time, of course. And if you need to know what time it is, well . . . you're in New Orleans, aren't you? It's time to eat.

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