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Saturday, July 28, 2012
Hubig Pies bakery burned to the ground.
Check out this post from the New York Times about the fire:
The Hubig’s Pies bakery, a New Orleans icon of guilty pleasure, was destroyed in a fire early Friday. The company, which has fed New Orleanians since the 1920s, had come back from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina. Now Hubig’s is being tested by flames as well.
Its humble little sugar-glazed fried pies, prepared with lard for a flaky, hearty crust and filled with fruit, coconut, chocolate or — during the fall — intoxicating fresh Acadiana yams, are a part of the city’s sweet soul. They do not necessarily appeal to a sophisticated outsider’s palate, said Brett Anderson, the restaurant critic for The Times-Picayune.
“If you’re some kind of serious food connoisseur, it’s not really self-evident why you should appreciate it when you’re eating it,” said Mr. Anderson, who was raised in Minnesota. “I’ve learned to love Hubig’s pies.”
The local love for Hubig’s, he said, is “part of the code” of living in New Orleans, which treasures fancy restaurants like Galatoire’s and po’ boy sandwich joints. “They love Hubig’s pies as much as they love bananas Foster,” he said.
It’s the catholic embrace of high and low, and a sensibility that says too much ain’t enough. Most of all, it’s a love of tradition in a place with hundreds of years of history and a long history of loss.
These are, then, more than pies. Four months after Hurricane Katrina, when the Hubig’s trucks started making deliveries again and the little packages with their images of “Savory Simon” in his extravagant toque began showing up in stores, it was cause for celebration. The pies are so closely associated with the city, its suffering and its renewal that in the first episode of “Treme,” the studiedly precise HBO series set in New Orleans, a restaurateur whose kitchen cannot come up with any of the desserts on the menu pulls a Hubig’s pie out of her purse and gets the chef to fancy it up for a customer. (Locals carped that the bakery had not reopened at the time portrayed in the episode, stretching the boundaries of accuracy, if not shelf life.)
The bakery sat in converted stables on Dauphine Street on a quiet block in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. The Fire Department said the blaze began in the center of the building, “in an area called the fry room, and spread quickly.” Thirty-two fire trucks responded to the blaze.
Charles Parent, the fire chief, recalled in an interview with the television station WDSU that the company gave unsold pies to firefighters and police officers in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, and so they felt the loss keenly. “Our guys put this out with their tears,” he said.
No one was injured in the fire, and that was the most important thing, said Lamar Bowman, the company’s president. Mr. Bowman said he had received calls of condolence and support from across the nation, and he pledged that this latest setback would not be the end of Hubig’s.
“We made it back from Katrina, so it’s our intention to rebuild and come back from this also,” he said. “We’ll start from the beginning and make it bigger and better.”
For now, New Orleans is without its little pies. Hubig’s fans sought out their treats in every gas station and supermarket where they are sold. “We opened up at 6, and I would say they were gone by a quarter of 7,” said John Serpas, manager of the Harrison Grocery in the Lakeview neighborhood.
The woman who bought the last two pies, he said, took the box, with the legend “A New Orleans Tradition.” She said, “This might be worth some money later in life.”