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April 11, 2024

  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
  • Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg
    Indie bookstore, Gathering Volumes, just hosted poet and (transgender) activist, Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility, Minney read from her poetry book – A Woman in Progress (2024). Her reading depicted emotional and physical transformations especially in the scene of womanhood and queer experiences. Her language is empowering and personally […]
Spring Housing Guide

A wannabe ode to okra

Brussels sprouts used to make me dry heave.

When overcooked, those precious little cabbages taste like raw sewage, which is what I remember as a 6-year-old at holiday gatherings. The first time I finally cooked them as an adult, I roasted them in the oven with a medley of parsnips, carrots, potatoes, onion and sage. It was then I finally understood how Cabbage Patch Kids could come from something so tender.

Beets were a horrible root veggie I associated with Dwight Schrute until, one fateful Christmas Eve, I tasted my mother-in-law’s Orange Beets. Finally, I understood their earthy tenderness, sweet flavor and hearty color. Every ingredient has, as “The Flavor Bible” proclaims, “Holy Grail” pairings. Beets are perfect when paired with oranges, olive oil, tarragon and a little bit of vinegar.

It was a food epiphany.

After my “beet moment,” my palate development came quite easily. In one of her “Bon Appetit” columns, Molly Wizenberg showed me the way to love kale: sauté it in butter and olive oil over medium-high heat so it pops, sizzles and wilts; add lemon and Parmesan cheese to flavor. The moment the bitterness of the kale, the acidity of the lemon, and the nuttiness of the parmesan touched my tongue, I thought I was going to speak in tongues. Seriously, eating my first plate of kale is and always will be one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. It remains my favorite vegetable.

But right now, I’m at odds with okra. I respect its history, its deep ties to the South, Africa and India. Not many vegetables can be boiled, braised, fried, grilled, sautéed, steamed or stewed. Okra’s gumminess is the perfect thickening agent for rich stew-like dishes such as Cajun gumbos. Okra’s peppery-ness perfectly compliments a succotash.

The only problem: I’m not crazy about okra.

Its woody skin and slimy flesh aren’t winning over my taste buds. I’ve tried roasting it to understand its flavor profiles, but, like tofu, it takes on its seasonings-salt, pepper and olive oil. I’ve tried cooking okra in an Indian curry to find its stewy mouthfeel. Turmeric, cumin, coriander, garlic, coconut and tomatoes: I sift through each distinct ingredient’s flavors, but never find okra’s. It’s as if it’s a ghost.

Will okra ever speak to me like kale? I’m dying to hear its delicious nothings.

But food moments just happen. And so I keep waiting for okra to happen to me.

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