A Green Vegetable for a New Generation: Okra

I wouldn’t go so far as to say okra is the next kale. But these green pods seem to have much more allure lately, to the point that I got instant and passionate responses over to the Twitter after carping that I’d flipped through five garden cookbooks without finding one tempting recipe. Fry ’em, pickle ’em or sauté ’em with corn, tomatoes and bacon were a few suggestions. I wound up dusting them with cornmeal, salt and Aleppo pepper and frying them in bacon fat that night and am going to quick-pickle some tonight (or try this Epicurious recipe, adding smoked paprika as a Twitter pal suggested with her prep). But just typing that sentence shows how ready okra is for prime time. Bacon and pickles are buzzwords for a new generation, one beyond open to produce not available in every season in every Safeway. The amazing Waverley Root has a great entry on okra in his Food, in which he made my point back in 1980: “Fresh okra used to be a fixture in American vegetable markets, but it is disappearing now for it is the sort of food which supermarkets would rather not handle; instead we get it canned, frozen or dried.” All of which would put you off your gray-green feed. Now you can find okra super-fresh, especially in farmers’ markets right now. We’re living in interesting times. For every signal that we have the greatest food supply in history, there are little reminders that we’ve sadly narrowed our choices for consistency’s sake. May kohlrabi one day return to the mainstream. . . .

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