Okra is a tall tropical herb cultivated for its edible pods which look rather like Aladdin's slippers. It originated in Ethiopia and later made its way to the rest of Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt, where it grew along the shores of the Nile.
Apparently okra was brought into the Southern US in the 17th century by Africans from Angola who called it "ochinggombo". The Indians from Louisiana discovered its thickening properties and used it for their own seafood and vegetable stew which they called "gumbo". Okra must be picked when very tender, not more than 3" long, firm and unblemished, and remember: okra is gluey, that's just the way it is. In the South it is much appreciated in hot spicy Cajun dishes, sauteed or in stews with lots of onions, corn, tomatoes and sweet peppers; or raw and thinly sliced in salads or dipped into beaten egg, cornmeal and deep fried . Okra can replace eggplant in many recipes and it goes very well with tomatoes and other acid foods.