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Eat Local Challenge: Gumbo, Gardens, Granny, and Glynda

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My grandmother said she was in the mood for some okra gumbo. It's not something she makes too often anymore since according to her, the only way to keep it from getting slimy is to constantly stir it while cooking down the okra. For an elderly woman, even the firecracker my grandmother is, that task is a bit difficult. Since she was in the mood and having quite a difficult time finding okra, I offered to bring her along with me to the Hollygrove Market.

As it would happen, we arrived 20 minutes before they opened, which ended up being the best thing of the day! During the 20 minutes it took the volunteers to complete setting up for the day’s shoppers, I took my grandmother on an exploration of the garden and she gifted me with stories from her childhood!
 “Oh, Glynda see that? That’s a fig tree. My grandmother used to have one of those. They’re great for ringworms. Just rub some of the milk from the fig on it and it'll clear it right up!”

“Is that right, Granny?”

“Oh and look at those blackberries. You know they start off red and when they turn that deep dark purple color all over, that’s when you know they’re ripe.”

“I’d like to plant blackberries. I’m sure Shoke (my daughter) would love them.”

“I bet! Blackberries do well along a fence. My grandmother used to plant blackberries and all the kids would love to pick them, well except me. She’d yell, 'Watch out for them snakes! Put some garlic in your pocket!' Oh but not to worry, I wasn’t messin' any where snakes were gonna be!”
Eat Local Challenge 2012 |
Our conversation continued like this well past 20 minutes!  As we passed each plant she was familiar with, I got a glimpse into my grandmother’s childhood. Okra, cucumbers, green peppers, bird’s eye peppers, lettuce, thyme, rosemary (she never did like the smell of that), sunflowers…the stories went on and I was her captivated audience! It's moments like this when we realize that although we all have our differences, as family sharing the things we love always bring us closer.

So as I filled my basket and she did hers, we spoke of the different ways to prepare the produce we bought. “See that winter squash?,” she said with her head tilted to the side a bit and lips pursed out. “Well you won't cook it like I will. I like it with ham and shrimp (my grandmother is completely tickled that I don’t eat pork). But I’m sure it’ll work just as well with just shrimp for you.” I smile...she’s so spunky! “And those crowder peas, well you cook those just like black-eyed peas. You know I put ham in that too, but you can just use the seasonings (my grandmother's way of referring to bell pepper, garlic, and celery) you got today and they should be fine.”

Of course, I could not mention the market without mentioning the gentleman who sells his pies right in the entrance. Admittedly, I neglected to get his name, but no worries. If you go on a Saturday, he’s bound to be there selling the pies his wife’s been baking since 1967! And he was quite the charmer. Even I couldn’t resist his sales pitch, and I'm glad I didn’t cuz they were phenomenal! Sweet potato, pecan, and sweet potato pecan…delicious!

Besides the items in my basket, I also purchased five grain rosemary bread and Creole tomatoes which made quite a satisfying lunch. Leftover drum from the previous night's meal and sautéed green beans from my basket closed out the day with another great Bissap Breeze and Old New Orleans Rum cocktail: One part Bissap, two parts rum, and two parts tonic. Quite a refreshing way to end the day!

I am a firm believer that food has the power to bring us all together! At the root of it, that’s exactly what the Eat Local Challenge is about…togetherness. Today in the garden of Hollygrove Market, I felt closer to my grandmother than I have in a long time. Sharing her memories with her as she strolled through the gardens was an experience I will cherish indefinitely! Not to mention the gumbo I'm getting this week! 

On to Day 3!

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 June 2012

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