December, 2012. Flour Bluff, Texas. It’s All About the Dough

Posted on December 15, 2012

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One of my favorite books is Walter Romig’s “Michigan Place Names”, which explains how the state’s cities and towns, both past and present, acquired their names. It’s an interesting, and often surprising, read.

flour bluffSo, the sign welcoming us to Flour Bluff, Texas immediately caught my attention.  ‘Flour’ usually is associated with agriculture or milling…or baking.  And as it turns out, the community’s name was adopted from two things that usually don’t go together – pastry and war.

Now, any baker will tell you that good dough depends on good flour. And, anyone who follows the daily developments of this war-torn world knows that when one group makes war on another you can bet power and money are the main motivation, though the actions may be cloaked in the righteous robes of religion, national sovereignty or whatever.

When you get right down to it, it’s all about the dough.

So it was with the Pastry War of 1838.

A French pastry cook living in Mexico City appealed to France’s King Louis-Philippe for help in securing reimbursement for damages to his pastry shop caused by Mexican military officers during a period of civil unrest.

Coming to its citizen’s aid, France demanded 600,000 pesos in damages. This was way more than the damages actually amounted to, but Mexico had defaulted on a series of loans from France – millions of dollars worth – and King Louis-Philippe was long past feeling friendly toward the Mexican government.

French diplomat Baron Deffaudis gave Mexico an ultimatum – pay the claim or else. When the payment was not made, the King sent a naval fleet to blockade Mexican ports. With the seizure of the port of Veracruz, virtually the entire Mexican Navy was captured, and, in retaliation, Mexico declared war on France.

With trade cut off, the Mexicans began smuggling imports into Corpus Christi, Texas, and then into Mexico. Fearing that France would blockade Texas ports as well, a battalion of men of the Republic of Texas began patrolling Corpus Christi Bay to stop Mexican smugglers.

One smuggling party abandoned their cargo of about a hundred barrels of flour on the beach at the mouth of the bay, thus giving Flour Bluff its name.

The United States, wishing to cultivate the Republic of Texas who had gained independence from Mexico only two years before, sent the schooner Woodbury to help the French in their blockade.

After much posturing by the governments of the United States, France, the Republic of Texas and Mexico, diplomatic intervention by Great Britain resulted in Mexico finally agreeing to pay the 600,000 pesos.pastry button

The dough was handed over, the French forces withdrew on 9 March 1839, and the Pastry War was over.

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Posted in: Travel - Texas