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Poke Salad

A survival staple that requires work to survive

Poke Salad

Photo by Ryan Hodnett

Poke weed.

Contrary to what millennials might tell you, poke didn’t come to Louisiana with the arrival of a popular Hawaiian food chain. Pokeweed (also called polk salad, poke sallet, or many variations thereof) is a highly poisonous, perennial plant that generations of people once foraged out of necessity. These days, mostly older folks will recall with fondness the process of picking the young leaves in spring, boiling them three times, then sautéing them with bacon grease, although word is that trendy restaurants like Heirloom in North Carolina now put the weed on their menu for a few weeks each year. Closer to home, Blanchard, Louisiana, has been throwing a Poke Salad Festival in May for almost five decades, showing that there are more than a few Louisianans who never forgot their roots.