Friday, August 15, 2008

Harold and Kumar and Fried Okra

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2008 at 5:00 AM

click to enlarge whitecastle.jpg

A few weeks ago, we had an office discussion about places to consistently get good fried okra. It's such a simple food—cut okra, bread it, fry it—but surprisingly hard to make just right. Southerners expect it to be as good as their grandmother's (or, bless her heart, even better). While a great meat-and-three is your best bet for finding the wonderful and lightly cornmeal-breaded okra with bits of almost-burned pod pieces poking out, many only offer it on specific days or even just randomly. So what about chains?

The old Luby's at Harding Mall used to be my go-to place where OK fried okra was always available. It was all-you-can-eat, and I can eat a mess of fried okra. With that gone, I tried the okra at Captain D's. I suggest you don't. When people complain about terrible, from-the-bag, breaded-and-ready-to-fry okra, this is what they mean.

I finally settled on Cracker Barrel, which offers consistently decent fried okra. But who wants to go through the hassle of waiting in their store, trying to find ironic entertainment in their selection of Kountry Krap, just to get a quick fix for an okra jones?

Now you don't have to. White Castle offers fried okra. "White Castle?" you ask. Yes. Well, maybe more specifically White Castle/Church's. It might be the latter that makes it possible, but the important question is whether fast-food fried okra can rise above the subpar standard set by Captain D's.

It can, and it has. Though all were shocked by the source, White Castle passed the taste test of several fried-okra lovers around the office. The real-cornmeal breading was perfectly light and crispy, and the look of it denied its fast-food origin. If it were spread on a plate with some homemade cornbread and black-eyed peas, even your grandmother might be fooled that you made it yourself from her own recipe. Bless her heart.

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