Okra, the most hated of all vegetables

Posted: July 23, 2013 in Urban farming

I suspect most people have a vegetable from their childhood that stood out, among all others, as the most hated of all vegetables.  The one that could not be dressed up, disguised, or hidden in a casserole with corn flakes, cheese, and meat.  No matter the preparation, it was the vegetable that simply would not, could not, be eaten.  Ken’s most hated vegetable was Brussel sprouts.  Mine?  Okra.

Gack.  Bleh.  It was nasty, nasty stuff.  Hairy on the outside.  Slimy on the inside.  And it smelled vaguely of wet, dirty socks.  It was always grayish green, perhaps due to the harsh boiling it always received.  Apparently, there are many ways to cook okra, but around our house, it was boiled until gray-green, slimy, stinky, and generally gross.  I could not even keep it down.  That nasty okra tripped my gag reflex every time.

This summer, I decided to grow okra.  Huh?  Why on earth would I do that?  Well, okra flowers are really pretty.  And the kid wanted flowers.   Also, after growing bell peppers, turnips, and beets, I truly realized that home-grown FRESH vegetables often bear little similarity to their supermarket counterparts.  The okra I planted is an uncommon strain.  While the fruits grew quickly into the shape I recognized, not much else looked familiar.  These okra were a bright pinkish red.  Kind of pretty, really.  I was not sure when to harvest them.  So, I poked and squeezed.  Well.  These okra had no hairs-at least not ones I could really see.  How odd.  When they appeared ready, I cut them from the plant and dutifully brought them into the kitchen.  I was making jambalaya, with okra, for the first time ever.  I sliced the okra.  And waited for the slime.  There was no slime.  What the hell?  I picked up the sliced okra.  Nope, no slime.  Where is the slime?  I distinctly remember the slime as The Last Straw in the whole okra experience.  I sniffed.  No dirty sock smell, either.  Well, then.  I was a bit surprised, but into the pot!  I watched as the sliced okra turned a bright green in the jambalaya.  No slime spontaneously appeared and I only smelled the spicy goodness of jambalaya.

I admit I did not exactly hork okra.  Ken did.  I, however, rather cautiously tried a few slices.  I didn’t want to rush into anything.  One of the fruits was a bit too woody.  But, the others?  Just fine.  Rather savory really.  Who knew?  The next batch may get battered and fried…

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