August 9, 2009

Polk Poke Salad Sallet

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Photograph by Russell Lee.

Woman preparing poke salad. Marshall, Texas. March 1939.

From the Farm Security Administration collection held by the Library of Congress.

comments

  1. Sheila Ryan on August 9th, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Greens, bacon, onion and eggs are the basics.

  2. Daryl Scroggins on August 9th, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    In Texas they call it Poke Sallet. I have eaten it many times. My grandmother made it–in spite of being fearful of its poison. She said an old lady taught her how to boil it and change the water three times. And like you say, it is often served with scrambled eggs. Some say it tastes like spinach, but I always thought it tastes more like collard greens. Thanks for the fine picture, Sheila.

  3. Daryl Scroggins on August 9th, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Okay I’m back, Sheila. This picture has stirred up silt from a very muddy bottom for me. Trinity river bottoms, near Livingston, TX. Close to the Big Thicket. What I remember now is ideal visits to my grandparents’ house on a lake in the deep woods, with the Trinity River running just down a sandy road. I remember the wildlife–but I also remember the utter disregard for its majesty, by me and those around me. Human dominion of the beasts of the field ruled; all was “fair game” and conservation laws were viewed as something flung in the face of God’s authority. I have an image in my mind of my grandmother smiling over a tub of softshell turtles–then taking a knife to them. And my grandfather, catching a big yellow catfish and tossing it on the bank to die. I watched it gaping for breath like a slick machine, so regular in it almost remembered desire. I said, “Aren’t you going to kill it?’ He laughed. “It’ll die for sure when we skin it,” he said. But don’t let me leave myself out: I had a b-b gun and was good with it. Birds fell in mid song. Minnows swimming with little lights on their sides, like a bus moving into dusk, were shot and scooped up for a mere viewing when they neared the surface. I could hit wasps on the wing and was admired for it.. I can see it all so clearly, and I am so ashamed. I hope, now, that I can be good to animals for a long time, and thus make up for some of the stupid destruction I was once so avid for.

    Have you read Sarah Orne Jewett’s story “The White Heron”? Sylvie made the choice I wish I had made.

  4. Sheila Ryan on August 10th, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Daryl, thank you for posting your recollections of life near Livingston and for mentioning the story. I found a Google books text.

    I realized that maybe once a week for breakfast or lunch I eat a poke sallet-like dish — a kind of spinach frittata that is more spinach than egg.

    And I just fixed the title of my post — as another friend just said, “Don’t you mean poke sallet?”

  5. Sheila Ryan on August 10th, 2009 at 7:45 am

    “The Allens” line of canned vegetables still included canned ‘poke sallet greens’ till just a few years ago.

  6. from the comments : clusterflock on August 10th, 2009 at 9:20 am

    [...] Daryl Scroggins: This picture has stirred up silt from a very muddy bottom for me. Trinity river bottoms, near Livingston, TX. Close to the Big Thicket. What I remember now is ideal visits to my grandparents’ house on a lake in the deep woods, with the Trinity River running just down a sandy road. I remember the wildlife–but I also remember the utter disregard for its majesty, by me and those around me. Human dominion of the beasts of the field ruled; all was “fair game” and conservation laws were viewed as something flung in the face of God’s authority. I have an image in my mind of my grandmother smiling over a tub of softshell turtles–then taking a knife to them. And my grandfather, catching a big yellow catfish and tossing it on the bank to die. I watched it gaping for breath like a slick machine, so regular in it almost remembered desire. I said, “Aren’t you going to kill it?’ He laughed. “It’ll die for sure when we skin it,” he said. But don’t let me leave myself out: I had a b-b gun and was good with it. Birds fell in mid song. Minnows swimming with little lights on their sides, like a bus moving into dusk, were shot and scooped up for a mere viewing when they neared the surface. I could hit wasps on the wing and was admired for it.. I can see it all so clearly, and I am so ashamed. I hope, now, that I can be good to animals for a long time, and thus make up for some of the stupid destruction I was once so avid for. [...]