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Probe: July 24, 2001

July 24, 2001

QUESTION: You keep writing about polk salad in PROBE. The other day you said it grows wild. Is it the same thing as verdes lagas, a green that grows wild along the edges of lettuce fields. Boiled with pork, it's delicious. — Hispanic, Calexico

We don't think so but then we have never seen verdes lagas and you've never seen polk salad, so it's hard to say. You don't know how to say verdes lagas in English and we doubt if polk salad has a Spanish name.

In any case, we don't think polk salad would grow in Imperial County. We know people who sent back to Oklahoma and Arkansas for seed but we don't think any seed ever came up here. You see a lot of polk salad in gardens around Modesto.

Polk grows like a weed in the mid-South. In late summer it may reach heights of 3 or 4 feet. The clusters of red berries are said to be toxic. We don't know because we never ate any.

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Even the green leaves that look like spinach are supposed to be poisonous. Generally, the leaves are boiled, drained, covered with fresh water, boiled and drained again. Finally the water is squeezed out of the greens before they are dropped with chopped green onions into hot grease. After all the liquid is fried away, according to the recipe, break several eggs into the mixture and scramble.

Verdes lagas grows like a weed here and in Mexicali Valley. It grows best in the sandy soil around Holtville.

"It grows so thick it will clog up farm machinery. When I used to drive a tractor, I would have to stop and clean the discs," according to a man we know.

"If you want verdes lagas, pick it in the morning when it's cool and crisp. In the afternoon it's wilted and ugly," he said.

"When I was a kid we were poor so we didn't have any meat to put in it. You put it on a plate with some beans, a little cheese and a tortilla and it tastes good."

QUESTION: I am the president of a 4-by-4 club. We are working with John Hunter, Robert Rubio, Hector Ochoa and Danny Santillan to put out water for undocumented immigrants crossing the desert. We need volunteers. If you want to help, call Rubio at 353-4168. — Doing Good, El Centro

We must have had a half dozen calls from people pleading for help distributing water in the desert. Can you imagine volunteering to plod around the desert in July to resupply water stations? It's another way of making the world a little better.

QUESTION: My name is Mike Myers. I just finished college and I am getting ready for graduate school. My grandmother, Mildred Myers, died when I was a little boy. If I ever met her, I don't remember it. My dad said my grandmother had a sister, Blanche Carter, who may be living in Imperial Valley.

If I could find Aunt Blanche, she could tell me about my grandmother and my dad's side of the family. She would be in her 70s now.

I have never been in the Imperial Valley but I met some people who said PROBE can find lost relatives. Can you help me? — Lost Nephew, Tuallatin, Ore.

OK, readers, we've got another job for you. If you know Blanche Carter, you can reach her grand-nephew at (503) 691-1178. Tuallatin is a little town on the outskirts of Portland.

Before you call, ask Blanche if she wants to be found by a long lost nephew. Not everybody is anxious to reunite with misplaced kin.

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