"The Social Network of the South"
Early August mornings began with a short jaunt to my grandma’s small garden patch. I remember walking barefoot in the grass and the feeling of the cool emerald blades, still clinging to the morning dew for dear life. Crawfish holes were speckled throughout my path, and I desperately attempted not to trample on them. The residents were allowed just a few more hours of peace and quiet before I began terrorizing the poor crustaceans. The gentle buzzing of wasp wings beat as familiar as an old truck puttering along a country road. My eyes finally spot the garden, tenderly tucked away in the corner of the yard.
A sheltering fig tree filled the patch with a pleasant honeyed-aroma. Blackberries hid under their leaves like treasures waiting to be discovered, and sunny yellow flowers beamed at me with ruby eyes from the towering okra stalks. Jade ladylike fingers slowly swayed back and forth in the breeze, quietly summoning me like a queen giving consent to approach her throne. Peppery, grassy scents filled the air as I clicked a pinky-sized okra off its resting place, tossed it into a bucket and quickly filled the container to the brim with these emerald jewels. I followed the trail back to the house with the energy from the sun’s rays beaming on my back, a pail full of okra nestled in my arms, and the promise of a lovely summer’s day.
Recipe: Serves 4
Note: Cutting the okra in half lengthwise and roasting it eradicates the “slimy” texture that most people associate with okra. Also, try buying okra no longer than the length of your pinky. The smaller ones are delicate and tend to be more flavorful.
1 pound of fresh okra, rinsed and dried thoroughly
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or 1 full teaspoon for the bold)
¼ cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Trim the rough tops and skinny bottom tips off the okra pods, and cut the okra in half lengthwise. In a large bowl, toss the okra, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil together until well combined. On a rimmed baking sheet, spread the okra in a single layer and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until brown. Serve immediately.