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Love is a greasy pile of fried okra

link Karl Terry

Local columnist

I love the vegetables of summer.

I came about the love naturally, back when we deep-fried many of the veggies from the garden.

Taters, onions, squash, sometimes tomatoes, but most of all okra were all subjected to hot oil and sometimes a pretty heavy breading. Maybe it wasn’t the healthiest way to get our vegetables, but it was delicious and a favorite summertime feast.

For a time before we moved to town, dad would plant a garden on rows up near the house and mom would tend it and sell it in town at the fruit markets. With an old steak knife in my hand I picked a good number of miles of okra. Well, maybe it wasn’t that many miles but it was sure an itchy job. But it never turned me off one of my favorite vegetables.

Until a few years ago, you could have never found fried okra in a restaurant. Occasionally, you would see pickled okra on a salad bar, but never fried okra as a vegetable choice. It’s a good thing that all changed or I might have wasted away for wont of the slimy fried pods.

I got lots of okra at home thanks to my dear old mom, but an incident early in our marriage caused an okra drought in the home.

I’m not sure now if the eventful day occurred in the summer of our nuptials or the following year, but it nearly spelled disaster for our little love nest of a home.

My wife knew of my love of okra, which she did not share, but because she cared for me she agreed to fix some. I’m unclear if it was store-bought frozen breaded okra or if it was okra my mother had battered and frozen for us, but the blood-curdling scream from the kitchen when the frozen okra hit the grease in the pan lifted me from the couch immediately.

By the time I got to the kitchen a small tower of smoke and flame was reaching from the pot on the stove all the way to the ceiling. Thank goodness neither of us was dumb enough to try dousing the grease fire with water, however trying to smother the pot with a cup towel is an equally bad idea.

By the time I had stomped the flames out of the towel on the back porch my new bride had tried baking soda and all purpose flour on the flames to no avail. Finally I found a lid to clamp down on the pot and put the flames out.

Since that time some 30 years ago, if okra was prepared in our household I had to fry it myself. That is until this past week. I came home to the smell of fry smoke coming from the kitchen, and there next to the stove was perfectly browned breaded okra on a platter — a veritable hillbilly heaven atop a bed of greasy paper towels.

She still loves me, folks.

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: [email protected]

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