Well, I guess this week is full of Dark Corner days! In writing about flowers in the last blog I remembered a not so fond memory of a plant from my childhood. Everyone has probably heard of the song “Poke Salad Annie,” by Tony Joe White but in my opinion poke salad or sallet is certainly nothing to sing about.
Poke salad comes from the pokeweed plant which is a large weed that is a perennial pain to eradicate on any farm in the South! The large plant grows 4-8 ft. tall and has small purple berries. Warning the purple berries are poisonous! In the early spring the first shoots of a pokeweed are considered a delicacy by some and Grandma Lillie was no exception. I think in Dark Corner the first signs of anything green were fair game and after a winter of canned vegetables many craved some spring greens. Not me!
Grandma Lillie said eating Poke Salad was good for your constitution and full of vitamins. Maybe so, but whatever her argument I simply could not stomach the concoction. In late March or early April, she would take brown paper bags and gather bagful after bagful of poke greens. It seems it takes a lot of greens to make a decent batch of Poke Salad.
Poke Salad is cooked much like collard greens or turnips and we know greens smell to high heaven when cooking! She would boil the Poke Salad greens several times which kept her house stinking for days after the event. Once the toxins were boiled out she would drain the greens. Grandma Lillie then added the greens to bacon grease and onions in a frying pan. Only the bacon smell seemed to soften the odor of the greens. She added a few spices, a bit of water and let the mixture cook for a 20 minutes or so. Once the poke salad was cooked she added a chopped boiled egg. Wow, talk about smelly!
How she ever ate Poke Salad is beyond me, but she loved it best with cornbread and tea. Poke Salad was a simple dish enjoyed by many in Dark Corner, but for me it was simply disgusting. Ok, enough I am nauseous just thinking about the stench!
If you are brave and wish to try Poke Salad here is a basic recipe for the dish. Enjoy…….just don’t call me when it is ready! That’s it for today, next week I promise we will return to some coffee topics.