Native KY Plant Is Toxic But Also Shows Up in a Certain Recipe
If you know something is toxic, you won't eat it, right? Right? I mean, that's the disclaimer for this story before we go any further. DO NOT EAT TOXIC STUFF.
A Toxic Kentucky Weed
You wouldn't think you'd need to tell people that, but when a toxic plant shows up as an ingredient in a recipe, it's not a bad idea. But then again, it DOES beg the question, "Why does a toxic plant show up in a RECIPE?" By the way, it's this plant...or WEED, I guess:
A Toxic Kentucky Weed...That You Can EAT?
See? Toxic but edible...when prepared correctly. He said it, and I believe it. In fact, you can't find a presentation about pokeweed--common throughout Kentucky--that doesn't include at least a mention of "poke sallat." I've always called it poke salad but honestly had no idea what it was or if it was just something made up for this song (note the difference in the spelling):
What Can Pokeweed Toxins Do to You?
But regardless of its history as a "delicacy" and the fact that Elvis sang about it, it IS toxic. So I turned to some folks who know a thing or two about health and medicine for some answers. Over to you, Vanderbilt University:
The active components of pokeweed include phytolacca toxin (and related triterpene saponins) and mitogens. The phytolacca toxin and other saponins can cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and produce a “foamy” diarrhea. GI symptoms such as an oral burning sensation, vomiting, or diarrhea are the most common symptoms following pokeweed ingestion. The vomiting and diarrhea may be significant enough to produce dehydration.
I mean, why would you want to risk that? It's like those side effects listed on commercials for prescription drugs which are pretty daunting, to say the least.
Here's How Folks Who've Eaten Pokeweed Prepare It
But folks HAVE taken that "risk" or there wouldn't be a recipe for "poke sallat." Here's how to prepare it if you're game:
Well, I'm not game. Anytime someone says, "First, we're going to cook the poison out," I'm probably just going to have a peanut butter sandwich. Oh, and did you know that at one time, you could BUY them in a can?
That is officially a relic as the Allen Canning Company hasn't produced a can of poke salet greens--could someone land on just ONE spelling please--since 2000.
So you'll have to go gather them yourself...if you dare.