Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Poke Salad Annie

Though I grew up near the Mississippi Delta, there are a few Southern delicacies I've yet to try, like Kool-Aid pickles. And some I'll NEVER try — like chitlins and pickled pig's feet. Last night, I tried Poke Salad, a wild semi-poisonous green common in rural Southern cooking.

Some folks like to serve it with scrambled eggs, so I whipped up this Poke Salad with Scrambled Tofu:

Poke Salad resembles spinach in taste and texture, and it was the perfect accompaniment for the tofu, which I seasoned with nooch, curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and soy sauce. On the side, I sliced a summer tomato from the farmer's market (yea for summer tomatoes!!!!) and a slice of Ezekiel bread spread with Marmite.

My Granny gave me a batch of poke salad that she'd had frozen in her deep freeze. It was already prepared, so I only had defrost it and heat it in a little safflower oil.

Now, I mentioned that poke salad is poisonous. According to Wikipedia, poke salad must be boiled three times, discarding the water each time, to remove all toxins. I believe Granny did all that before she gave it to me. At least, I hope so.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about poke's poisonous properties:

The eating of nonfatal quantities of poke, perhaps of the shoots, may cause retching or vomiting after two hours or more. These signs may be followed by dyspnea, perspiration, spasms, severe purging, prostration, tremors, watery diarrhea (often bloody) and, sometimes, convulsions. If a fatal quantity is eaten, perhaps including roots, the above signs are followed by paralysis of the respiratory organs and other narcotic effects, culminating in the death of the poisoned person.

Um, wow. The good news is, I ate it last night and for lunch today, and I'm still alive. So I think Wikipedia is probably exaggerating a little, like they do with the possible side effects in those drug commercials on TV. However, I'd caution everyone to make sure you find a good Southerner who can help you prepare this green if you plan to go picking your own wild poke.

On another note, my awesome neighbor Wes brought me another plate of food tonight — Fried Hominy, White Beans, and Fried Potatoes (I added the organic kale because it was about to go bad):


I was planning on making the Chickpea Noodle Soup from VCon, but that'll have to wait. Hot, yummy FREE food from my favorite neighbor is way better!

24 comments:

romina said...

Mmm, must try hominy!

VeggieGirl said...

Oooh, the poke salad looks great!

Andréa N. said...

Wow, nice neighbor! Both meals look delicious, but now I'm scared of those greens. :)

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Fascinating about the poke. I guess like would be no fun if we didn't take a risk every now and again, right!

How nice of you to have a neighbor that brings you food!

jessy said...

Bianca! OMG! i had no idea you could eat pokeweed greens! when i was little my mother told us to NEVER eat the berries (they were so pretty & purple). we'd smash them up and "paint" stuff with them (i grew up in the country. we got bored, what can i say?!), but that's so cool that you can eat the greens! we have TONS of this stuff growing in the woods behind our house. i might just have to "grow a pair" and give it a shot!

Lauren said...

wow, good thing you survived the poke salad! :) it looks really good.. guess id have to be super careful if i ever decide to make
that.
i've heard about the kool-aid pickles before..haha definitely sounds.. different!
oh..and your neighbor bringing you dinner? wow.. i need some new neighbors!

ClaudiaWR said...

you're a brave lady! i'm not sure i would ever sink my teeth into something that may or may not be poisonous...but it looks like you've got it under control.

Alice (in Veganland) said...

Something called poke salad can only be good for you. It sounds so funny! :-)
About local foods growing in Germany by the same time they grow where you live... I really don't know... Germany has a quite high latitude, but I guess summer is the same everywhere? Anyway, as long as we all get zucchini, I'm fine with it ;-)

Cyn said...

That poke salad looks tasty, although I'm not sure I'd risk death for it! And the hominy looks so tasty, I might have make some tonight.

shellyfish said...

I'm so glad you're ok! Good grief, scary greens! And I wish I had a neighbor like yours! :)

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

I've never tried hominy...what's it like? The poke salad sounds fun! I love trying unusual greens. I think the weirdest I've tried was sauteed wild dandelion greens in Newfoundland. They were really bitter and almost meaty (and kind of gross).

federal vegan (kate) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
federal vegan (kate) said...

I've always wondered how things get to the point where someone can say with authority "wash this carefully three times and it won't kill you." Cause surely it made someone real sick along the way, so why would they keep trying to eat it? But I'm glad someone did, cause it looks tasty. I love scrambled tofu with greens!

Veggie said...

I always wondered what Poke Salad was, my husband is in an Elvis band.

Now I have to try fried hominy.

Erin said...

I've never heard of poke salad! Must be one of those "Florida's not really the south" things. And I just had real hominy for the first time last weekend. Great southern food!

mentally.ticklish said...

I've been wanting to try this for awhile but I can't figure out where the hell to get poke greens. Seems like the only folks I know that have used them (only medicinally, that is) have just gone into the mountains and picked them wild.
I'm too lazy to do that just for supper though.

Rach-ums said...

You are brave my dear! Looks good, but I don't think I'll be trying it anytime soon haha

Lizard Drinkin, aka "Retardo the Craptacular" said...

Hell I only found this page because I was wondering what the hell the song "Poke Salad Annie" was all about. Presumably it refers to a woman tragically driven to narcoleptic rage by her poverty-induced reliance on poisonous food. What a shame. Her mamma was a-working on the chain gang. :(

rufjumperEd said...

I made my comment. It was good

Anonymous said...

My grandmother ate poke salad every spring for 80+ years. She also cooked hominy quite a bit--fried it in a cast iron skillet with lots of pepper.

Anonymous said...

Do any of your readers forage? You know the Navy Seals and other elite forces can survive under almost any terrain, bc they know what to eat and what not to eat. I love poke salad and first ate it with scrambled eggs. Would love it with tofu now :) Just had some last week, with onions. My husband didn't "rinse" it at all. The "ole Mamas" used to "clean out" their "chillin" every season and they never got sick. We are all just soo sophicated and ignorant since we have "lost our way".

Anonymous said...

I am a 47 year old Kentucky girl and have been eating poke salad my entire life. My mom fixed it for our family by cooking the poke leaves with butter in an iron skillet, until the poke got limp. Then she would add scrambled eggs and salt into the poke. My best taste description would be that it tastes similar to spinach cooked the same way. As to where to find it....it grows wild all over our family farm.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE poke salad. I just cooked some for Memorial Day. It was delicious! I live in VA; originally from SC. If you know what you are looking for, you can find it just about anywhere. I boil and rinse my five times before putting it in the pan with fried salt pork, onions, vinegar, seasoned salt, pepper, accent and liquid smoke. After it has simmered, I will scramble in a egg. I also have potato salad, corn bread, a meat and a glass of sweet tea. I have been eating this for over 50 years and am very healthy. During the season, I try to find enough to freeze. When I don't have poke salad, spinach is an excellent substitute. Trust me, if I prepared it and you tried it, you will eat it again.

Veronica Townsend said...

Wow! Didn't know that I would actually find a web sight with someone eating poke salad, just took a chance and type it in. Is it not good or what. I love it with scrambled eggs in it. The eggs gives it a whole different taste. Did you know that you can get the berries off and replant them where you want it to grow. I did it and now I have beautiful homegrown poke salad in my flower bed. Great eating for real! Enjoy!