Thursday, August 28, 2008
The Favorite Food of Lightning
I’ve had a terrible time with static electricity. Someone told me that my ions are reversed. In the fall, when I return so reluctantly to being shod, the shocking starts. As the winter deepens the jolts get stronger, until I never touch anything metal, like a car door, without pulling my sweater down to insulate against what will otherwise be an experience just short of grabbing an electric fence. It causes cussing. My brother-in-law, who knows his physics, suggested that I might affix a little ground wire to drag behind me, but didn’t say to what.
My Yeye, on the other hand, said that I should consider the shocks as kisses from Shango, the Yoruba Orisa of lightning, justice, drums, and dancing. That sounds better, as I understand he’s good-looking, when he’s a fellow.
I’ve read that his favorite food is okra, and I’m very fond of that too. When picking okra, amongst the sticky prickling and gorgeous pale yellow flowers, it seems to me that a very erotic scent lingers on the fingers that pick it.
In Cebah’s kitchen okra is usually sliced in half-inch wheels, tossed in seasoned cornmeal and fried, and that can’t be beaten, but this is an unusual and delicious variation:
Dan's Kiss of Shango:
Slice tender pods of okra into half-inch cross sections. In a suribachi, or with a mortar and pestle, grind a large clove of garlic in a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, then mix with juice of a lemon. Pour this mixture over the okra and toss it to coat. In a bowl, combine a half cup of stoneground cornmeal, 1/2 tsp of powdered tumeric, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Toss the okra in the seasoned meal and fry it in a 1/2 inch of hot oil until crisp and brown.
Or try this traditional African recipe for fried okra:
Make a paste of 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 cloves of minced or crushed garlic, 2 teaspoons of tumeric, 2 teaspoons of curry powder, (much better to make this from scratch…but for now… just make sure it’s fresh at least), 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, (powdered) and one teaspoon of salt. Split twelve young okra pods to the cap, and spread the paste inside, then press the pods back together and fry in hot oil till browned.
These recipes will feed at least one person, maybe two. Its unlikely you could grow enough to make more than a taste for Shango. Be sure to smell your fingers when you pick the okra.
(On this historic evening, I dedicate my post to our next president, Barack Obama; a real leader - who embodies the justice of Shango in our time, and whose beauty will prevail.)