Here’s the deal. I recognize the fact that if one of your worst childhood memories is being forced to eat okra that you’ve had a pretty fortunate life. That being said, it must have been fairly traumatic because the experience still haunts my dreams. I was probably seven or eight years old. Living in Dallas. What my family lacked in material wealth we more than made up for with love. At least, that’s what I thought until the night my parents force fed me this nasty little vegetable. It was green. It was fried. It was breaded. It was one of the most unpleasant things I ever had the misfortune of introducing to my young taste buds.
Look, I could have called this blog Makya McBee Vs. The Foods He Doesn’t Like and have come up with just as many topics. I’m the pickiest eater I know. I don’t like anything spicy. I don’t like anything sour. I pretty much try to avoid flavor. There are four to five things I enjoy eating – the rest is all very difficult for me to stomach. I’m pretty sure I have hypersensitive taste buds. (I remember, for example, a purportedly bland chili that my dad told me was not at all spicy that felt, to me, like swallowing fire). But few things compare to that dreaded okra.
Abelmoschus Esculentus (yeah, doesn’t sound as tasty when you use the Latin) is a fuzzy, green, ribbed pod. Oh, unappetizing in so many ways. Okra is ribbed for nobody’s pleasure. Okra feels like a hairy spider’s leg. Okra is mucilaginous. Yep, nothing says delicious like mucilaginous. And it’s just what it sounds like – this is what’s responsible for the slimy quality of okra. And hairy, slimy, green vegetable + seven year old Makya = gag reflex.
My parents didn’t believe me when I told them I couldn’t swallow the okra. I was gagging on this foul flavor and they weren’t buying it. Well, it’s thirty years later and I’m sticking with my story. Do you believe me now? I couldn’t swallow that disturbing “food.” And I still can’t.
I have to be honest, every time I go home, I secretly fear that my mom or dad will make me eat okra again. How old do you have to be before your parents can’t tell you what to eat anymore? I’m pretty sure they’re not allowed to dictate my diet…but I’m not willing to take that chance. I mean, if I didn’t eat my vegetables as a child, they would often save them for me and make me eat them for breakfast the following day. It’s not a bad strategy. It wasn’t really a battle, if I didn’t want to eat something, that was fine…it’s just that I wouldn’t eat anything else until I ate that thing…and I don’t know what I’d do if they tried to pull this one on me again with a pile of foul okra.
“Are you going to eat that okra?”
“You have to eat your vegetables, son.”
“Um, I’m 37 years old.”
“I know how old you are…you gonna eat those?”
“Okra is like eating a gooey spider and the very thought of it makes me wretch.”
“Oh…well, I’ll save it for you and you just let me know when you are hungry…it probably won’t be quite as good cold…for breakfast…but it’s your choice.”
So, how am I going to do it? How will I keep this green abomination from “stalking” me? I suppose it shouldn’t be that difficult. It’s just a vegetable. Clearly, I have issues to deal with. Maybe I need professional help. Something to stop the nightmares. Help curing my phobia. Perhaps hypnosis. It certainly sounds relaxing…soothing…I can see it now…close your eyes…relax…deep breaths…you’re getting sleepy…very sleepy…and when you wake up…you’ll have to eat your okra! NOOOOOOOOO!!!