SFA is sad to report the passing of Eva Louis Perry, better known as Tee Eva. Her sweet shop on Magazine Street was famous for its pralines and small pies.
Though she worked in food service for many years in her earlier adulthood, Eva Perry’s professional life didn’t blossom until 1989, when at 55 years old she established Tee Eva’s Pralines & Pies. It was while watching the Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme blackening redfish on television that she realized that she, too, had a culture and a talent to market. After all, Eva had learned her trade from a long line of country cooks—while she grew up in New Orleans, both sides of her family were bayou Creoles. Her sweet tooth had been well-established during childhood. Some of her best memories were of her aunt’s lemon icebox pie and bread pudding; of making pralines with just-gathered pecans and brown sugar straight from the mill; and of the frozen icees she purchased for a penny from a Greek-owned store in her neighborhood. Eventually, she graduated to sno-balls. When she was a child, that meant a pile of coarse, hand-scraped ice flavored with either strawberry, spearmint, or pineapple syrup. Back then, there were just three flavors. You can find many times that amount today at Tee Eva’s Pralines & Pies, which Eva passed down to her granddaughter, Keonna Thornton Sykes, in 2003.
Tee-Eva passed away Thursday, June 7, 2018, at the age of 83. On Monday, June 11, New Orleans locals remembered her with a second-line parade. See photos from that event here.
To remember Tee-Eva in her own words, look back at the 2011 oral history interview she did with the Southern Foodways Alliance.