Slimy Lady’s Fingers

Okra @DC LAH 229I’m really not a fussy eater. While I draw the line at some animal parts (Rocky Mountain oysters, anyone?) and various invertebrates (no deep-fried scorpions in my diet!), I’m not nearly as fussy about dining on plants. Of course, I think some plants taste better than others—I’m a big fan of broccoli, artichokes, and papayas, for example, while I tend to avoid cucumbers and those bitter Italian greens—but for the most part, if it’s prepared well, I’ll eat it.

Except.

I don’t do okra. I’ve had okra (also known as lady’s fingers or gumbo) in soups, stewed, curried, stir-fried, roasted, deep fried, and in various other random recipes that my friends—skilled in the culinary arts—assured me I’d love. All I can say is, they were wrong. I admit, I like the flavor. No problem there. But the slime gets me every time.

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Ewww, What’s That?

slime-mold_manitouexperimentalforest-co_lah_1830They’re not exactly beautiful. At first glance, you might guess that your neighbor’s dog has vomited on your lawn, but don’t go knocking on their door quite yet. These flattened slimy or spongy masses are actually living organisms known as slime molds.

Growing up to two feet in diameter, slime molds may be white to yellow, pink or tan. Although they look slimy, they are actually fairly resilient when prodded. Unlike plants, slime molds can travel several feet a day. And despite their name, they are not at all related to molds or other fungi. Rather, they’re considered members of the Protista. If you want more detail than that, let’s just say it’s complicated.

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