Sunday, November 1, 2009

Okra is NOT an Armenian talk show host

I'm not a fan of okra (bamya).

I can’t help it! It’s not that it tastes bad; it’s the texture I object to. Have you ever seen fresh okra? Touched it?

It’s not a bad looking vegetable, but it has a somewhat fuzzy exterior. The words “fuzzy” and “vegetable” should never be used in the same sentence, if you get what I mean.

It’s taste is actually mild - inoffensive, in fact. What REALLY turns me off is the slimy goo okra produces when cooked for a long time. This “goo” is actually a viscous substance that serves as a thickening agent.

Being a culinary person I know this, but somehow my tongue just can’t get past that texture. It’s really a shame, too, because Doug really loves okra. On a rare occasion, he’ll make himself okra cooked with tomatoes, onions, and spices.

I’ll have to admit, the recipe always smells great, but I just can‘t bring myself to eat it. If okra is cooked until it has a bit of crunch left in it, I might give it a try. In fact, I’ve eaten pickled okra and was perfectly fine with that - it had more of a firm cucumber pickle crispness - no goo.

Armenians are particularly fond of okra and use it in many recipes including gouvaj and geragours. Young okra, 3 to 4 inches long, will be tender. Larger okra will be more fibrous and chewy.

My friend, Hasmig Eskandarian, thought of me when she came across an article about okra (bamya) because she knows how I feel about it. Unlike me, the article’s author, Betty Apigian-Kessel, was able to “conquer her fear” of bamya. Click on this link to read her story, and try her recipe.

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