Postcard from Toulouse, France: A basilica with great bones

Above: Reliquary in the Basilica of Saint Sernin

Most people reading this headline would assume I’m talking about religious architecture, but those definitely are not the only bones on my mind. This does not mean that the architecture of the Basilica of Saint Sernin is not amazing; it is. So, we’ll just get those bones out of the way first.

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Texans sure like reading about Texas

Above: 2021 brought new ghost lore for Brackenridge Park.

In the end of the year push to publish An Ostrich-Plumed Hat, and Yes She Shot Him Dead, I almost forgot the all-important round-up of your favorite posts from 2021. Most readers appear to favor stories about their hometowns, whether it is San Antonio (still Alamobsessive as ever) or Austin. Or maybe this represents a two-year confinement blip, where you are looking for comfort close to home and aren’t fully prepared to play boulevardier yet.

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A sweet San Antonio mystery: Where did the Candy King’s recipe go?

Flip side of above postcard: “The Mexican Candy seller is a typical sight on the streets of San Antonio. Dressed in his native garb and selling a kind of pecan candy peculiar to Mexico which he alone seems to have the secret of making more toothsome than anyone else.”

Pecan pralines that melt in your mouth. The perfect finishing taste after overdosing your Mexican food with spoonful after spoonful of addictive salsa and jalapenos.

In 1910, there was one praline vendor who dominated the market in San Antonio, Tomas Contreras (1847-1912). I “met” him when I was researching my recent book, An Ostrich-Plumed Hat, and Yes, She Shot Him Dead. I stumbled across a full-page obituary for the Candy King in one of the local newspapers.

Tomas was born in Guanajuato and arrived in San Antonio with his mother Juanita in 1877. In the kitchen of their rented house on Matamoros Street, Juanita made what everybody claimed was the best pecan candy. She would dispatch Tomas to sell it downtown. He would take his basket and head to Alamo Plaza near the Menger Hotel. The Menger soon invited him to sell inside the lobby, positioned next to their popular blind harpist.

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