- Written by Frank McMains
- Category: Cuisine
April 2010. Its pearly, frosted coating peeks out from a waxed-paper, fireworks-stand colored wrapper. It's the fried badge of intimacy with the Big Easy—the Hubig’s Pie.
It rests there in the palm of your hand, the crescent-shaped empanada of authentic New Orleans’ citizenship. It is one of several enthusiastically devoured local delicacies, the sweet confection for a place that jealously guards its traditions and homegrown products. According to production manager and third-generation pie man, Andrew Ramsey, the Hubig’s factory kneads, stuffs, fries and glazes twenty-five thousand individual pies per day. Almost all are shipped within an hour’s drive of the city.
But, like many treasured icons of that city, it is neither wholly local nor originally exclusive. Simon Hubig came from the Basque country between Spain and France, setting up a factory in the Faubourg-Marigny in 1922 and his franchise bakeries were scattered around the southeast.
But as with Mardi Gras (which the citizens of Biloxi never tire of pointing out, was celebrated in that coastal city before the first doubloon was ever tossed out over a crowded Canal Street) the Hubig’s Pie really came into its own in New Orleans. Yes, Houston had a Hubig’s bakery but they seem to have traded it in for sopapilla stands. This Mexican cousin of the beignet may be a tantalizing dessert, but it is no Hubig’s Pie. For sheer utility, humble portability and déclassé convenience, nothing bests this sweet treat.
On the cool winter’s afternoon that I visited their facility in the 2700 block of Dauphine, lemon pies were rolling off of the assembly line. Words like facility and assembly line may conjure the image of banks of robotic arms injecting fruity filling and spraying sugary glaze like so much automotive paint, but Hubig’s is really just a modestly sized bakery. The cast iron wheel that stamps out the familiar capital-D shaped pies has been in use since the first Hubig’s Pie was sold in New Orleans in 1922. This means that every pie ever eaten by man, woman or child in that languid city has been stamped by the same pastry cutter. No change since day one. The Hubig’s Pie was, is and ever shall be in that enduring form.
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