My post today for the Houston Press…
Even in East Texas, where fried okra is to the culinary landscape what George the Gator is to Peggy’s on the Bayou, people simply can’t tell you what okra tastes like.
My wife Tracie P, an accomplished gastronome and native of Orange, Texas (where she grew up frying her okra in Nanna’s cast-iron skillet), is hard-pressed to describe the mallow’s sensorial virtues.
“It just takes like okra,” she’ll say. “It tastes slimy.”
And therein lies the rub: More often than not, when people describe the flavor of okra they actually refer to its texture (and in doing so, they employ a literary device known as synaesthesia, whereby we use one sense to describe another; but that’s another story for another day).
I didn’t grow up eating okra, but I’ve certainly had my share since moving to Texas nearly four years ago to be with Tracie P.
On my palate, it has a certain spiciness, more gentle but reminiscent of jalapeño and mint, and, of course, its unctuous texture is a unique experience in the gastronomic spectrum.
Okra’s in season right now and we’ve been receiving a heaping helping each week with our weekly CSA delivery. So, what wine to pair with okra (which is rigorously fried at our house)?