From Okra Fiasco to Soul Food: A Grandson’s Awakening

From Okra Fiasco to Soul Food: A Grandson’s Awakening June 7, 2024

Woman stirring pot on stove.
My grandmother was an excellent cook though fiascos can happen in the Kitchen. Image courtesy of Pexels.

The Great Eggs and Okra Fiasco of North Georgia

My grandmother, God rest her, was an excellent cook. I want to get that out of the way right up front because I don’t want anyone to think I am disrespecting her culinary abilities. My grandfather wasn’t overweight accidentally if you catch my drift. The woman knew her way around a kitchen. But even the best of us in whatever field we excel in will have occasional misses, and my dear grandmother was no exception. Her biggest miss (actually, the only one I really remember) was the Great Eggs and Okra Fiasco of North Georgia.

This fiasco began, as they tend to do, as a very mundane happening. We were set to travel from my grandparents’ home in the North Georgia mountains to. . . Well . . . To somewhere. I actually don’t remember where we were going. But the trip required us to leave at such a time that Grandma decided to cook breakfast for us to eat on our way. That’s okay as far it goes, but somehow this beautiful Christian woman decided on that memorable day to cook something she had never, to my knowledge, made before. And she was so proud of the idea, too!

“I’m going make a scrambled egg and okra soufflé. How does that sound?”

Not That She Cared How I thought It Sounded

Boy eating while looking out window.
We didn’t always look forward to Grandmas cooking. Image courtesy of Pexels.

Understand, Grandma was of that generation that didn’t really care how the children thought anything they suggested sounded. She was just asking to be polite—or maybe to revel in our growing apprehension. She cracked a few eggs and threw them into the frying pan, then added a whole bag of okra—unbreaded. There was enough food in that frying pan to guarantee whatever came out was going to be a big warmed-over mess. Which this was. To make it worse, she promptly served our plates, and then covered them until we were in the car and ready to eat. I have no idea what that particular dish might have tasted like hot, or at least warm, but by the time I could eat it, it had become a congealed, wet, slimy, cold mess of unappetizing, inedible, food matter. Did I say inedible? My mistake. What my grandmother prepared, let no man (or boy) call inedible. Somehow in the course of that trip, I managed to force down an entire plate of the stuff. And keep it down—barely. But I swore I would never eat anything like that again.

I learned a valuable lesson that day about the importance of changing your diet when something you eat disagrees with you or causes you great discomfort. I also don’t like squash, and I have tried to not eat it for several decades now. The problem is, at times I might receive an invitation to speak at some area church, and at times I might mention my dislike for squash in the sermon or talk. Invariably, after the service, I would be approached by a sweet elderly saint who would place her hand on my arm and assure me that my problem was simply that I hadn’t tried her squash. And, wonder of wonders, she just happened to have brought some for the after-church potluck. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to straddle the line between speaking truthfully and being kind and loving towards the dear woman waiting expectantly for my reaction to her squash casserole. I think I’ve usually resorted to saying something like, “Wow! That’s as good a squash casserole as I have ever had!”

A Lesson Learned . . . On Repeat

I’m relearning this lesson now, as an adult. I’ve learned my diet has to change again. Not food, this time, but what I am ingesting mentally. I’m eating far too much Facebook and far too little scripture, for example. The anger and hatefulness I’ve been consuming via social media have affected me both spiritually and emotionally. I’m realizing how bad it is for me right now, and I need to cut way back on junk food and start filling up on the things of God. Besides scripture, there are wonderful, uplifting, books out there that I haven’t read that I could jump into. I could listen to calming or soul-inspiring music. I could engage my men’s group, or my other friends, in mutually affirming conversation. The list is long, but I have a menu already in mind. I plan to restrict my diet to whatever is true, or noble, or right, with extra servings of purity and loveliness, along with all things admirable–really, anything that is excellent or praiseworthy will be on my plate (Philippians 4:8). I’m committing to tasting the bread of Heaven and seeing that it is good (Psalm 34:8).

For me to continue as I have been with the soul-destroying rhetoric of Facebook and other social media outlets would be as if I constantly served myself a cold and congealed egg and okra soufflé, and then complained about it to anyone who would listen. I need to go on a diet and start putting into my mind and heart only what tends to build up and strengthen, and I need to remove from my diet everything that destroys peace and harmony and purpose and joy.

What do you think? Is this something you might need to consider as well? If so, let me know what you do and how it works out for you, I’ll try to post an update in this space in a few days to let you know the same for me.

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