Tag Archives: Mr. Okra

New Orleans Community

Mr. Okra……Fruits and Vegetables!

Everyone’s New Year’s resolution these days seems to include eating better. In New Orleans, the home of fried food and starchy red beans and rice, oil and flour-thickened roux for gumbo, etc. etc., that may seem to be an impossible dream. But think about all the fruit and vegetable vendors in town, and it may not seem so far-fetched.  After all, we have one of the last remaining singing mobile fruit and vegetable vendors in the country, Mr. Okra.  Mr. Okra is famous these days for his newly painted truck, but his musical announcements for his wares dates back to the 19th century in New Orleans.  If you’ve never heard this “I’ve got eatin’ pears, I’ve got apples,” sung in a strange rhythmic cadence, you’re in for a surprise.  Sung in different ways to differentiate themselves from each other, street food songs have been a presence n New Orleans for many years.  A recording made by music historians, The Classic Sounds of New Orleans, on the Smithsonian Folkways label, features Dora Bliggen, another old-time fruit vendor who could have had another career as a jazz singer. Now, there’s just Mr. Okra who cries his wares, using a speaker and Autotune to surreal (and startling) effect, but there are still folks in New Orleans set up all over town in different locations selling fresh vegetables or fruit from their trucks.  Some of it is local produce in season-strawberries from Ponchatoula, or oranges from Plaquemines Parish, or greens from St. Bernard Parish truck farmers.  Wherever you drive in town, you may see one of these trucks.

read more »