the road | the food | a new direction

Poke Salat Festival, Arab AL, May 20th and 21st 2016

The name of this festival is really for historical significance and atmospherics as you are not likely to find actual poke salat (or sallet) at this or any of the other poke sallet festivals held in Southern communities. What is poke salat? You may know it as pokeweed. It has been treated as a vegetable in the rural South, much more so in the past than today. Only the young leaves are eaten, and they must be boiled well – some say in several changes of water. The plant is considered poisonous, particularly the root, stems, and berries.

Poke Salat Festival, Arab AL

There are, however, plenty of people around who can attest to the edibility and deliciousness of poke salat prepared properly. We’d figure that no public festival in its right mind would chance serving it, but we understand that you CAN sample the vegetable at L’Rancho Cafe in town. And if we were there, we’d be first in line!

L'Rancho Cafe will be serving poke salat during the festival.

L’Rancho Cafe will be serving poke salat during the festival.

So if there’s no poke salat what’s there to eat at the 32nd annual Poke Salat Festival? There’ll be barbecue and Cajun food, and plenty of festival vendors. The bands begin playing at 6:30 p.m. Friday and continue through the day Saturday on two stages. You can watch pottery making, basket weaving, and learn about beekeeping. There are fun runs, a pet parade, a mechanical bull, and a children’s play area. And you can visit this city that sits atop Brindlee Mountain in northern Alabama, which was named after the son of the city’s founding father. His name was Arad but the post office got it wrong! For more information, see the festival website.


  1. Tammy Anderson Parker

    Why does everyone think poke is poisonous. Mom used to give us paper bahs and sendcus out foraging. Was so much fun. Mom always to pick it before ot flowershave to pick and gets berries but I just simmered some giant leaves in about a cup of chicken stock and seasonings earlier today from a large plant just starting to flower a teeny tiny bit lol and they were delicious. I always just saute the younger smaller leaves in butter and garlic and sometimes add real little ones directly into my scrambled eggs. We’ve never even double boiled ours and I’ve eaten them all my life. Never gotten sick in the least. Such a sad myth. Just don’t eat the berries or roots I suppose. Heck they may be medicinal 🙂 but I’ll have to research that. Poke has always been my favorite flavor of all greens (very unique) being of the same texture as spinach when cooked but more flavorful and see on Wikipedia that it is Superrr healthy, but of course 🙂 About to simmer a bag of mixed sized leaves in the rest of that carton of chicken stock with a little water for about 15 minutes and freeze a couple of small containers for when I get a cravvving 🙂 I only remove the bigger leaf stems. Season is about over in Arkansas, starting to flower so get ready for next year in the south. Happy free food foraging lol, <3 Tammy

  2. Tammy Anderson

    Ooops forgot to proofread….That’s *paper bags and send us out…”

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