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For Easter breakfast my dad made poke Salet and eggs. My dad is an okie. Recently, I've been trying to get to know his past, not an easy task, as he was raised dirt poor and Indian in Oklahoma, and those were things to be ashamed of. He still carries that shame. Anyway, southern food is one way we've found that he'll share with me about his upbringing.

Poke Salet (or Poke Salad as some people call it) is from a wild growing plant called Pokeweed found in much of the southeastern United States. It was a mainstay of many poor southerners diet earlier this century, as it could be found in abundance along the creeks and waterways. The berries and roots can be poisonous and were used by the Indians to treat cuts and infections. It is almost impossible to find fresh in markets in the Pacific Northwest where I live, and I'm even having problems finding seeds so I can grow it. I have, however, found it canned in most major markets.

Poke Salet is prepared by boiling it, discarding the water, as even the leaves may be slightly toxic, and either frying the greens in bacon grease or stirring them into scrambled eggs. The taste is similar to mustard greens or spinach, but slightly more acidic. I thought it was delicious.

An interesting thing about Pokeweed is that the a substance found in it (known as PAP or Pokeweed Antiviral Protein)has been found to destroy the AIDS virus. It is currently being tested in government approved clinical tests. Pokeweed has been used by Native Americans and folk healers for centuries, as a treatment for cancer, herpes, inflammation, liver problems, and many other health problems.

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