Before I went in search of Natchitoches meat pies, I read everything I could find about where they came from. Natchitoches resemble empanadas, so many culinary historians trace their origins to the 18th-century Spanish outposts and missions not far from Natchitoches, Louisiana. But because they are also similar to French Canadian tourtière (a baked pork pie in a pie shell), other scholars connect them to the French Canadians who settled the region. There are also tales of meat-pie eating on Louisiana plantations before the Civil War.
As with so many iconic Southern foods, it seems that Natchitoches meat pies may be a melting pot of cultural influences. In the last century, the pies went from street food sold from pushcarts; to popular orders at cafes and barbecue joints; to special-occasion food in the home of wealthy Natchitoches citizens; to, by the 1960s, near extinction—until butcher James Lasyone opened Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant and thankfully revived the meat pie tradition.
Read a detailed account of my trip and see pictures of the people (and the meat pies) I met.