My mother made meat pies on Christmas Eve, when we opened our presents in a festive celebration.
Christmas brings memories of my mother’s meat pies, as well as the cakes and cookies she made for the big day.
I don’t remember how the Christmas custom began. My mother had grown up in Campti, La., near the old French city of Natchitoches, where meat pies were a local delicacy. Getting her home economics degree from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, she’d come to love the old city’s special dish and learned the recipe.
To prepare the triangle-shaped pies, she wrapped ground meat in flour, frying them to a golden brown. She laid them on a plate covered with paper towels, which absorbed the grease. Seasoned with onions and pepper, the ground meat was spicy, especially when drops of Tabasco were added.
A few pies remained the next morning, when we awoke to discover what Santa had left for us under the tree. She warmed them up for a late morning snack, before our big Christmas feast.
Several years ago, I ordered meat pies from a place in Natchitoches, Louisiana’s oldest city, and the location of the book and film “Steel Magnolias.” Natchitoches is also known for its 96-year-old annual Christmas festival featuring more than 300,000 lights and 100 tableaus along the Cain River, an abandoned channel of the Red River.
This year, my sister sent me a package of meat pies from Natchitoches.
Savoring each bite, I'll remember my mother's gift of love each Christmas.