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Poke Sallet Celebration Underway in Kentucky

Submitted by on June 4, 2021 – 8:18 amNo Comment

Poke Sallet Festival, Harlan, KentuckyThe 66th Annual Poke Sallet Festival began yesterday and runs through Saturday (June 5, 2021) in Harlan, Kentucky.

And what, Road Trips Foodies may ask, is poke sallet? As Saveur magazine reports: “According to Nicole Taylor, chef and author of The Up South Cookbook, poke sallet is a stretch food, and it happened to be the first fresh vegetable to rise from the ground in the earliest days of spring. ‘When you look at foraging, that’s only what they call it now. People who were poor and people who were formerly enslaved — they had to figure out what to cook, and what to eat. You can trace different wild foods back to those folks. People who are looking for food to get by are more likely to eat poke sallet than someone who had means to eat other things.’”

Considered by some a poisonous green, others swear by its, ummmmm, medicinal properties. Purportedly it will cure you of intestinal worms, battle HIV, and herpes. In any case, one eats only the leaves –after boiling ’em three times.

The Poke Sallet Festival was conceived by Drew Smith and friends at a dinner featuring poke sallet in the spring of 1955. The first festival was held the following year at Cranks Creek Lake. The festival has been held in several locations including Pine Mt. Settlement School, Harlan County Courthouse, and now in downtown Harlan at the Harlan Center.

Needless to say, poke sallet is a regional thing, popular only in Appalachia and the American South. Your Road Trips Foodie can’t say for certain that it’s even being served at the festival, which now focuses more on entertainment and showcasing local artisans and crafters. You’ll find a pet show, car show, and the Torres Family Circus.

Want to cook your own? Check out this video:

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