The Danish and the Pecan Pie
Archives | 04/30/2011
Troup County Archives and Legacy Museum often welcome out-of-town visitors but on Friday, April 22, we hosted visitors from WAY out-of-town. While on vacation in the United States, a couple from Denmark came to tour the Legacy Museum on Main. They were here for a two week drive through the Deep South. They flew into Memphis, rented a car and drove southward. They traveled through Vicksburg down to New Orleans and continued on across the Gulf Coast, then turned north. The couple made an effort to steer clear of the more touristy areas in hopes of experiencing the true culture of the South.
When they arrived in Troup County, the couple found the museum and had numerous questions. Some were as simple as, “What are the trees that are grown in nice, neat rows?” The first response was, of course, to presume they had seen peach trees. But, after some discussion, I realized they were actually wondering about pecan trees. The second question was, “What is a pecan?” Even as a born and bred Southerner, it was difficult to explain what a pecan is. After explaining that we use the nuts in many favorite dishes like cakes, candies, salads and casseroles, I finally simply suggested they try a nice slice of pecan pie from a nearby restaurant.
After several questions regarding American Indians, cotton, slavery and the era of prohibition, I was able to give them a brief history of the states through which they had driven.
Many of the couple’s questions demonstrated the vast differences between the culture of the American South and that of Denmark. They were surprised at the large parcels of land on which many houses sit. The Danish are accustomed to smaller plots of land due to the relatively small size of the country, which is half the size of the state of Georgia. Even such simple things as grocery stores were full of intrigue for our visitors. They were surprised to hear how much the cultures vary from state to state as well as the variation from urban to rural areas. As residents of a country found to be “the happiest” by a 2009 Gallop Poll, the couple was saddened by the images of poverty and disparity they witnessed as they drove through rural Mississippi.
As with most experiences of this nature, I believe both the couple and I had a few moments of reflection about the cultures in which we were raised. While the Deep South may not possess a title such as “the happiest”, I am hopeful that we presented an image of strong, hard-working and resilient folk. And perhaps the couple, as they enjoyed their slice of pecan pie, will remember the people of Troup County as some of the most hospitable.