Okra are seen in the markets more and more but are a relative newcomer.
The Australian Women’s Weekly 1981
The story of Anglo-Celtic Australian cuisine from the first days of the colony that gets told over and over is about how bland it was, how limited the choices of vegetables, fruit and spices. In the characterisation of it as meat-and-three-veg the latter generally is a selection from potatoes, carrots, beans, cabbage, peas, pumpkin and other staples of an English cuisine circa 1870. Lately I’ve been discovering just how wrong that characterisation is. One of the vegetables that gives the lie is okra.
While doing research for an article on rosellas – the fruit not the bird – I often came across okra in home gardening advice columns in Australian newspapers and magazines dating back to the middle 1800s. There was clearly a history here of okra in Australia that has been forgotten. I set out to find what I could using Trove, the online library database owned by the National Library of Australia, and my collection of Australian cookery books. I focussed on the domestic cultivation and culinary uses of okra.