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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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pecan the most important native nut of N. America, is borne by one of the hickory trees, Carya illinoinensis. The hickories, which are related to the walnut trees, include several species with edible nuts (see hickory nut), but the pecan is much the best. Its native habitat is the central southern region of the USA.

The name pecan comes from the Algonquin Indian paccan, which denoted hickories, including pecans. Rosengarten (1984) explains that:

A creamy liquid called powcohicoria or ‘hickory milk’ was prepared by the Algonquins: paccan kernels were pounded into small pieces, cast into boiling water, strained and stirred. This rich, nutty concoction was added to broth to thicken it, and to corn cakes and hominy as a seasoning.