Whoever combined tomatoes and okra first was a fusion chef avant la lettre. Okra, a gift from Africa to the rest of the world, came westward across the Atlantic as an unintended consequence of the slave trade—and met the tomato on its native ground. It must actually have occurred to cook after cook that the acidity of the tomato would be a nice match for the mildly astringent and otherwise unassertive okra. Today, it is a classic combination, toned up with onions. The tomato disguises the sliminess of the okra.
© 2007 Raymond Sokolov. All rights reserved.