Saturday, June 02, 2001

Poke rates its own festival




By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

        HARLAN, Ky. — When it comes to regional cuisine, perhaps no food is as loved or as hated as poke sallet, the zesty green that helped mountain families through lean times during the Great Depression.

        Tammy Madewell of Harlan couldn't imagine spring without fresh poke fried in bacon grease.

        “It's really good,” she said. “It tastes different than any other kind of greens.”

[photo] Nancy Madewell stirs up a kettle full of poke at Jay's Sandwich Shop in Harlan. The town is holding its 47th annual Poke Sallet Festival, which winds up today.
(Rhonda Simpson photo)
| ZOOM |
        Her sister-in-law Nancy Madewell, also of Harlan, cringes at the very thought of poke.

        “I had a small taste when I was a little girl,” she said. “I hated it. I've never tried it since.”

        Love it or hate it, people in Harlan are celebrating the lowly weed in their 47th annual Poke Sallet Festival that runs through today.

        Botanical guides warn the roots and berries of poke, which grows in abundance on abandoned coal mines throughout Appalachia, are poisonous. Some believe the young, leafy plants also are poisonous if not thoroughly cooked.

        The Madewells, who serve as cooks and waitresses at a downtown restaurant, will be serving it up by the platter today. In a booth outside, the Lions Club will be serving it in a special poke pizza recipe.

        “It's not a bad dish,” said Charles Sprinkles, 69, of Harlan. “If it hadn't been for poke sallet in the 1930s, we probably wouldn't be here right now. That's what we had to eat.”

        Scientists have entered the fray, some arguing that poke could be a treatment for a variety of illnesses, including AIDS and rheumatoid arthritis. Other researchers claim that eating the plant can cause intestinal ailments, birth defects, even cancer.

        David Eakin, a botanist at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, said poke is indeed poisonous, but it can be eaten without any harmful side effects.
       



Turnout key to blacks' political clout
Marchers to send message
Downtown boosters launch ads
Researchers urge police reforms
Swifton School 'family' goes separate ways
Rejected tile on stadium bill
Hair may be clue to baby's ID
Loss of Hamilton hospital affected many
Rave is moved out of Colerain
Developer yearns for trees, trees
Hamilton drops 4th fireworks
Mason quarrel not over yet
MCNUTT: Hive talk
Bank teller charged in robbery
Board holds menu of hikes for sales tax
Buddhists celebrate this weekend
Cincinnati, Blue Ash break off talks on airport sale
Covington weighing new school boundaries to balance racial mix
Despite daring swan dive, he's a jailbird
Deters: Edmondson broke pledge
Festival today for Neighborhood House
Fire crews battle blazes in pair of vacant houses
Good cause found to be no excuse in ethics case
Kenton to appeal ruling
Literary tradition often unrecognized
Mason woman celebrates 106th
Mount Airy shelter to stay open
Nazi guards' role explained
Pipe, workers are faulted in oil spill
- Poke rates its own festival
Students charged in prank incident
Taft asks for help on Comair
Tax cap suit ruling
UC faculty has long wish list
Union acquires state workers' home addresses
Kentucky News Briefs
Tristate A.M. Report