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Posted: June 5, 2011 12:30 a.m.

A hard-boiled case when it comes to okra

It's gardening time in Georgia, and some of my friends are sharing pictures of tomatoes, peppers, squash and all the other plants they're growing in their backyards. I love to see all this home gardening, but thankfully, I haven't seen any pictures of okra plants. Before I tell you about my hatred for okra, I'd better explain a bit about the proper pronunciation. It wasn't until I was in college that I learned that the itchy pods that we grew each year were pronounced "OAK-RAH." I grew up saying "OAK-REE," and I'd usually pronounce it with a strong red-mud accent on the "REE." "No ma'am, I don't want any more OAK-REE! I'm saving room for banana pudding." Okra can't compete with any kind of pudding. It's an unfair fight, no matter how you pronounce it.

Okra is one of the itchiest plants I ever met. I remember picking the pods as a child and being itched up one side and down the other. Our family garden, a sun-baked, red clay patch of land in Tucker during the late ‘60s, was an okra paradise, and that's where I learned to despise this nasty plant. Okra is itchy, it's a pain to harvest, and it's not nearly as tasty as banana pudding. My hatred was solidified in 1980, when I found a box of frozen okra in the freezer.

When you're a college student, and you haven't eaten all weekend, frozen okra looks a lot more appetizing than it really is.

I boiled the entire pack on the stove, and gulped it down in one sitting.

And that was when I learned a great lesson: boiled okra is just about the last thing you want to eat when you're starving. To this day, I get queasy when I see boiled okra.

In fact, I'd have been better off if I'd picked up a dead roadside ‘possum and fried him on the grill.

You might think it's a bit unfair to compare boiled okra to a dead ‘possum, and I guess you're right. But ‘possums don't read my column, and unless you tell them, they'll never know I compared them to something as vile as boiled okra.

David McCoy can be reached at davmccoy@bellsouth.net

 

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