“Have ready boiling, lightly salted water. Choose only tiny, very young fresh okra pods. Do not cut off stem end because you trust me. Drop whole pods in rapidly boiling water and boil exactly seven minutes from the time the water resumes its boiling. Not a moment longer. Drain quickly. Arrange like the spokes of a wheel on hot individual serving dishes. Place individual servings of Hollandaise in the centers of dishes. The okra is eaten as one eats unhulled strawberries, lifting with the fingers by the stem and dipping into the hollandaise. I recommend this to those who think they don’t like okra. It is firm, not slimy, and with the sauce, superb. I usually serve 12 okra pods per person.”
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Cross Creek Cookery
The above recipe was what first turned me on to okra. I was never an okra hater, I simply hadn’t paid it much attention except to include it in gumbo and (occasionally) Brunswick stew. After trying Okra à la Cross Creek, I now seek out okra in all dishes and forms. (Spicy pickles? Freeze-dried snacks? Yes, please.)
I bought my copy of Cross Creek Cookery at some now-unremembered time for some now-unrecalled reason. I have never read The Yearling. I have never read or seen Cross Creek. But I’ve practically committed the recipe for Okra à la Cross Creek to memory. It is the perfect recipe in prose form. Rawlings voice is clear and authoritative. (“Do not cut off the stem end because you trust me,” may just be my favorite line in all food writing.) Her style lacks all of the florid language used by so many of today’s food writers. And the cadence of her sentences is nigh on poetic.
I have nothing to add to what she says, except that I cook my okra only five to six minutes instead of her recommended seven. This keeps any leftover okra firm enough to add to salads (try it with corn, onion, and tomatoes) or nibble on cold.