I’m wondering if they give a Nobel Peace Prize in the category of food. If so, I think I may have it locked up with my solution to the problem of world hunger!
It came to me like a bolt out of the blue as I was driving to Nashville last week to visit my son. It’s a long drive and my mind wandered all over the road as I tried to prevent myself from dying of boredom.
About the time I crossed the Tennessee line I began to notice the kudzu vines that were running rampant over trees, telephone poles and even an occasional house or two. It was almost a beautiful sight to behold. The vine formed mile after mile of bizarre sculptures I renamed “Kudzillas.” If I squinted my eyes slightly, I could make out all kinds of images – a cowboy riding a horse, a green wedding cake – and one even resembled my mother-in-law.”
I once read that kudzillas can grow a foot a day during the summer months traversing a full 60 feet in one growing season. While it’s become a royal pain in the posterior, it does have its finer points even though it was originally an experiment gone awry.
The story goes that during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Soil Conservation Service promoted kudzu for erosion control, but it began to take over the South like a marauding band of Yankee soldiers. It blanketed everything in its path, cutting plants and trees off from sunlight and inflicting a slow death.
It took the government another 35 years to declare it a “weed..” Eradication efforts only made it more aggressive. I’m told it now covers 7 million acres in the Southe.
Why don’t we just save our money on herbicides and learn to eat the stuff. It’s plentiful and free for now, but after a few gourmet kudzu products are on the market, land owners will have a new cash crop.
I think it would make a wonderful wrap for sushi and I suspect it would rival the taste of collard greens if we boiled it up with a ham hock and served it with cornbread.
I know it won’t kill you because I once sampled kudzu at a restaurant called Mo Sugah. They served up deep dried kudzu leaves as an appetizer with a heavenly white sauce for dipping. It was delicious though I expect a napkin would taste good if were battered, deep fried and served with a tangy sauce.
It will only take one-half pounds to bake up a delicious kudzu quiche according to officials of the Blythwood, S. C. Kudzu Festival which is held each fall. If you’re unlucky enough to have a kudzu patch nearby – they this recipe:
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup finely grated Swiss cheese
1/2 pound fresh, young kudzu leaves
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
6 tablespoons heavy cream or evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 drops hot sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie pan or use an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan. In a medium bowl, beat 1 egg. Add rice and Swiss cheese. Stir well. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan, making a crust. Refrigerate until ready to fill and bake.
Cook kudzu leaves in a small amount of water, press to remove moisture and chop fine. Add butter and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat remaining 3 eggs. Stir in salt, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, heavy cream, hot sauce and nutmeg. When it’s blended, stir in Kudzu. Pour into prepared rice crust. Bake 30-35 minutes or until firm.