Gut Rumbles
 

January 12, 2009

Okra

Originally published November 27, 2003

I like okra any way you cook it. I prefer it fried lightly, but it's still good boiled, stewed or in a gumbo. A big, slimy pot of okra and tomatoes dumped over a bed of rice is good eating. I like pickled okra, too.

I read once that the okra plant came from Africa and was brought to America by slaves more than 300 years ago. I grew my own okra for years and was impressed by the fecundity of the plants. They like hot weather (which I have plenty of around here) and they don't need a lot of water. Deer tend to leave them alone when they eat everything else in your garden.

When you pick young okra, cut it with a knife or a pair of sissors and the cut forks and produces twice the okra you picked. A hardy plant will keep producing until the first frost of the year. They have pretty purple blooms in the springtime, too.

I suppose that eating okra is an acquired taste. If you look at a bowl of stewed okra, it appears to produce its own snot. It is slimy and full of seeds. I believe that stewed okra has a lot in common with raw oysters: if it ever gets in your mouth, it's going down your throat whether you like it or not. It's that slick.

I am fortunate because I love okra. It is a delicious vegetable and fairly easy to grow. Quinton grew up eating it and he still scarfs it to this day. He helped me pick a lot of it on the mini-farm. You can't allow okra to get too big or it becomes tough and stringy, so we checked the garden every day to pick okra that was just right for cooking.

I miss doing that. I would like some fried okra today.

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