Friday, March 11, 2011

Pieday: Pecan at Your Mama's Good Food.

NUTTY:  Pecan bits pack Your Mama's Good Food's pecan pie top to bottom
  • NUTTY: Pecan bits pack Your Mama's Good Food's pecan pie top to bottom
Ah, the pecan pie. Or Karo-nut pie. Or whatever you’d like to call it. We as Southerners (no matter what Food & Wine Magazine says about putting us in the Midwest) teeth on pecan pie. The depths of a good pecan suspension, the flavors of crust versus nuts are things that tenuate us towards who we are and what we will become. I do believe there’s a good part of pecan in most Arkansawyers (those with allergies set aside, of course).
To find a decent one is not hard — there’s a pretty standard recipe that most folks follow. To find a good one isn’t too challenging. To find a spectacular, unadulterated pie, though? That’s a rare thing.
So to find one in the most mundane of lunchtime spots in the middle of downtown Little Rock is heartening.
I stopped into Your Mama’s Good Food for lunch recently, catching the tail-end of the lunch rush. Of course, I wasn’t going to just check out the pie that had been recommended to me. I needed some vittles as well.
I got my tray, set up an iced tea and some silverware and met the nice gentleman behind the counter — who looked at me and said “fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.” I looked back, befuddled by how he had read me and then determined to throw him off.
“No, I’d like some black-eyed peas… wait, do they have ham in them?”
“Okay, well, green beans then.”
They were being put on the plate when someone else mentioned “they got bacon, too.” The beans got dumped, the plate got switched out, and I was left with choices again.
A gentleman from the back came up and quietly told me “there’s no bacon in there now, they’re just seasoned with pork.” Well, that didn’t help me much. I pointed at the fried chicken and the mashed potatoes. And…
“What’s that?”
“That’s vegetable spaghetti, that’s really good,” he told me, forking up a great deal of the pasta on my plate. It was decided for me.
A stop along the line at the dessert section (where the banana pudding sorely tempted me) for that piece of pecan pie and another stop at the end to pay up. “Roll or cornbread?” the lady at the counter asked. I thought she might have followed that up with a “sug,” but I wasn’t certain.
My repast came to $10.95... a bit more than I expected but I paid up, doing the calculations in my head. $6.50 for meat and two veg and roll, $2.25 for the pie and a buck and a half for tea… yeah, that was about right.
I had myself a seat and dug in, not realizing until that first bite of fried chicken breast just how hungry I had become. It was a flattened breast, breaded with flour and fried up golden brown, flaky chicken it was. The crust was a bit salty, but added to that gravy and a little bit of mashed potatoes and aw yeah. Those potatoes were a little lumpy like good hand-mashed potatoes, a little on the gold side.
And that veggie… spaghetti, did he say? Was irresistible. I could just feel the butter migrating to my hips but I did not care. There were bits of mushroom and carrots and corn and peas in there, and I figured what the heck — there’s some vegetables for me. I probably should eat healthier, but what the heck.
And then there was that roll. Geez, that roll, bigger than my fist and just barely able to keep its balance on the little plate it came on. Served up with real butter it was good, yeasty and flaky and pull-apart good. It was also good to push around some gravy with. And then it was good with some honey, too — we’re talking a roll three times the size of a conventional roll. Big roll.
But I was meaning to tell you about this pecan pie. This really dang good pecan pie that deserved its own accolade.

Eschewing the pecans-on-top-of-pecan-custard bit, there were tiny bits of nut throughout, suspended in the Karo-nut custard and packed in to the surface, a single half on top to illustrate just what sort of nut had been dismembered for this pie project. The syrup had soaked into the crust for a delicious homogeny of flavor, all nut and syrup and a little salt in the sweetness, a sop-up-syrup in the morning sort of flavor, a hint of what might have been maple flavoring, a touch of vanilla.
The texture is the thing, though. Instead of a pasty custard or a runny one, or even a gelatinous one, every single bite had those crushed pecans in it. It was quite lovely and divine. I’m all about that.
If’n you haven’t tried Your Mama’s Good Food, you should. Go park on the meter (it’s just 50 cents an hour) and get on there to 220 W. 4th Street, Suite 130. Right next to the Downtown Deli. I bet if you call (501) 372-1811 they’ll tell you what they’re servin’ up. They’re only open from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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