Okra is an "Old World" vegetable. The exact place of origin is still matter of debate. Over the centuries, many cultures have embraced okra and used it to create traditional dishes. Mediterranean and African recipes combined with tomatoes a new world fruit were created after the Columbian Exchange. Okra was introduced to the New World by African slaves. This vegetable is still a favorite in the American south. General overview with picture here. Africa is the source of the name It is first recorded in English at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
The mucilaginous pods, like miniature pentagonal green bananas, are an essential ingredient in, and thickener of, soups and stews in countries where they are grown Other names of the polynomial okra include in English speaking countries lady's fingers, in India bhindi, and in the eastern Mediterranean and Arab countries bamies. It is the only member of the mallow family Okra is generally regarded as native to Africa, and may have been first cultivated either in the vicinity of Ethiopia or in W.
It is not known when it spread from Ethiopia to N. Mediterranean, Arabia, and India. There is not trace of it in early Egyptian tombs, but it was recorded as growing beside the Nile in the 13th century.
Its westward migration to the New World seems to have been a result of the traffic in slaves. Okra reached Brazil by and Dutch Guiana by It may also have arrived in the south of the USA during the 17th century, and was being grown as far north as Virginia and Philadelphia in the 18th century. The spread of okra eastwards from India as slow. Its appearance in SE Asia may be assigned to the 19th century, and it arrived in China soon therafter Okra is only moderately popular in Europe It is used much more extensively in the Middle East and India, as a vegetable.
According to legend, okra was introduced to in southeastern North America by the "Cassette Girls" young French women who landed at Mobile in in search of husbands. They had with them okra that had been obtained from slaves in the West Indies, and which they used to invent "gumbo," which is a soup or stew thickened with okra.
Okra has played a major role in the cuisines of ex-slave societies in the Americas, where it continues to be popular. It is also cultivated in Africa and East and South Asia. Cambridge] , Volume Two p. The black-eye pea, so popular in the South today, was introduced in this fashion in ; there were others--okra and w watermelon, for instance--but it is in the nature of things that we have no precise dates for their arrival. New York] p. Okra was brought to America by African slaves, who used it in stews and soups and cut it up as a vegetable.
The most famous use for okra is in Louisiana gumbo. Slaves grew okra in gardens on southern plantations and introduced its cookery into mainstream America. Thomas Jefferson, in his Notes on the State of Virginia , recorded that okra was cultivated there. The pod of the opkra is steamed, boiled, fried, pickled, and cooked in soups and stews, notably gumbo. The seeds are also ground into meal for use in making bread oand oil. Southerners used ground okra seeds as a coffee substitute, especially during the Civil War The leaves and flower buds are also edible and are cooked as greens.
The pods and the leaves are dried, crushed into powder, and used for flavoring and thickening soups, including pepper pot, and stews. Although recipes for okra appear in early American cookery manuscripts, Thomas Cooper's edition of the Domestic Encyclopedia includes the first publsihed reicpe with okra as an ingredient. Mary Randolph's Virginia House-wife offers recipes using okra The word "gumbo" or "gombo" is another African name for okra.
In New Orleans it was applied to both the vegetable and the complex Creole stew made with it Gumbos migrated quickly throughout America Since the s, okra has entered the American culinary mainstream, although as many writers point out, it is an acquired taste. It is a significant component of soul food and southern cookery in general. Smith editor [Oxford Univeristy Press: New York] , Volume 2 p. The vegetable seems to have come to Virginia from black Africa, where it had long been cultivated, by way of the West Indies: Randolph's Gumbs is simply buttered okra; her recipe for Ocra Soup Columbia SC] p.
Hess' historical notes] Ms. Thye are very nutricious and easy of digestion. At 12 o'clock, put in a handful of Lima beans, at half past one o'clock, add three young cimlins cleaned and cut in small pieces, a fowl, or knuckle of veal, a bit of bacon or pork that has been boiled, and six tomatats, with the skin taken off when nearly done; thicken with a spoonful of butter, mixed with one of flour.
Have rice boiled to eat with it. Cimlins are a type of squash. Okra stew Okra stew is generally composed of tomatoes, onions and garlic. It is popular in Mediterranean countries and surrounding regions. Most of the ingredients are indigenous and have been combined since ancient times. Tomatoes date the recipe. These new world fruits yes, they are fruits!
Both Ethiopia and West Africa have been proposed as its place of origin and its date of arrival in the Mediterranean is not known. The cytotaxonomy of okra is so confused that it is possible the plant has an Asian origin. Lebanese and Palestinian cooks favor the baby okra, small and tender, about the size of the last joint on your little finger The meatless version of this stew, called bamiya, is made with okra, tomatoes, onions, lots of garlic, and lemon juice.
In Damascus they would also add lots of fresh coriander, while in Homs and Aleppo the okra would be cooked with copius quantities of garlic, pomegranate molasses, and tomato juice. Serve with rice pilaf and khubz arabi Arabic flatbread or pita bread.
This book contains a recipe for the above dish. Olive oil production involved three processes. The skin of the fruit must be first broken and the flesh crushed, preferably without breaking the stone. The pulp must then be pressed to release the oil. The oil must finally be separated from the watery amurca. Oil can be extracted without the use of presses, but mechanisation must have been important in the development of olive oil production. A beam press was in use in Ugarit Syria around BC.
Crushing mills and oil presses were widespread throughout the Mediterranean in Hellenistic and Roman times Although olive oil is never a cheap product it is used generously in modern Mediterranean cuisines, as it clearly was in ancient cookery also. It served serveral food purposes. It was a medium for marinading meat and fish before cooking.
It was a cooking medium. It was used as a dressing both for cooked food when served, and for fresh green vegetables; for this purpose it was sometimes used alone, sometimes mixed with vinegar and aromatic herbs.
Finally it was used in conserving. Olive oil is one of the best cooking oils, since, apart from its unusual health benefits, it retains a good flavour and its boiling point is high. In ancient times it had no competition from cheaper vegetable oils, while in ancient Mediterranean cuisine animal fat was not used as a cooking medium. On the edges of the classical world olive oil was less well know. Pharaonic Egypt imported olive oil from Palestine and Crete.
By the twelfth century BC olives were growing in Egypt, and Theophrastus confims that at the time of Alexander's conquest in the fourth century olives were grown for oil in the Thebaid, but this had been small-volume luxury production As the principal vegetable oil of the ancient Mediterranean, olive oil had many non-food uses.
It was a fuel, especially for lamps. It was a soap or cosmetic, used for rubbing the body Perfumed oils, used for burning as unguents, were made with the addition of various spices and aromatics Both pure oil and perfumed oil were used in religious and social rituals.
That must have applied to ancient Italy before the introduction of the olive, but we have little direct evidence of this, for once established, the olive became the universal provider The olive industry must have played a vital role in Crete and much evidence concerning it has come from that region.
Its cultivation there goes back at least to BC. Olive stores of Late Minoan date have been found and also seeds and an olive press at Palaikastro. A number of settling vats have also been brought to light, and the methods for extracting oil must have been much the same as those still employed in modern Crete.
This involves drenching the olives with hot water prior to pressing them; the resulting liquid is oured into vats which allow th oil to come to the top, the water being then drawn off through a spout at the bottom. The significance of oil in early Crete becomes evident when one considers the vast quantities of pithoi pottery jars in the storerooms of the palace at Knossos. Oil seems to have been the king's treasure, and its export one of his major sources of revenue