An Ode to Okra: Those Ladyfingers Were the Highlight of Chad Houser’s Childhood Sunday Suppers

Illustration by Mary  Woodin.
Illustration by Mary Woodin.

In the current issue of D Magazine, Café Momentum director, Chad Houser, wrote this essay on okra. The inspiration of his tale comes from his family’s tradition of Sunday suppers. We all know Chef Houser can cook, but who knew he was also a gifted writer. Pass the okra and enjoy.

The first time I fell in love, it was not with a girl. Girls had cooties and other incurable illnesses. No, my first love was okra. Okra presented itself in the only two forms that were acceptable to my elementary school diet: pickled and fried. I was smitten. On its best day, broccoli arrived steamed or, worse, boiled. Never pickled and never fried. Glazed carrots? Please. Forget covering them with brown sugar and butter. You could have coated those orange sticks with Skittles, and I still wouldn’t touch them. But okra never deceived.

Being a chef, I repeatedly field these three questions: 1) What is your favorite thing to cook? Answer: depends on which way the wind blows. 2) What is your favorite restaurant to eat at? Answer: not telling. 3) What made you want to cook? Answer: Sunday suppers.

Stay with him.