Jan 20, 2005


"The trip of the day starts around 10am, and our destination is the okra fields. I sit in the passenger seat and I cannot take my eyes off the endless okra fields. 

After the long drive, we arrive at one of the places where okra is gathered and prepared for production. I have never seen such widespread fields, stretching as far as the eye goes, creating a deep-green horizon.
The okra plant is very beautiful; it is rich in leaves, one or more meters tall, and it blossoms a beautiful yellow flower. 

Alongside the fields, there was the camp of the pickers. This was a group of approximately 40 people who worked on the harvesting and preparation of the okra. They start picking okra from the fields at very early hours in the morning.
The okra plant grows very fast, at an hourly speed.

Goudas Foods has given specifications for the size of the okra to be picked, and this is because the smaller okras have a much better taste. For this reason, the okra has to be picked as early as 4am in the morning, while it is still small.
After the okra fruit is gathered, the pickers cuts the stem with special scissors to prevent the juice from running out, which would make the okra dark in a few hours. The ready okras are then weighed and set aside for transport to the factory. 

Engaging with the Bulgarian okra pickers was one of the most unique experiences of my life! They welcomed us to their workplace and politely asked us to take our tour around without disturbing the people working. I was amazed to see how they never stopped working, despite our presence.

They kept the workplace clean, as well as themselves, as they would wash hands and feet every time they had to leave the working area and then come back. Their living conditions were extremely simple: a tent and some blankets on the ground where they slept and despite all that, despite their hard work, their poor living conditions, they were happy people, always with a smile on their faces. 

As the parents worked, the pickers' children played around the camp, trying to keep as quiet as possible. Those kids captured me completely; they had beautiful little faces, the warmest smiles, and the shiniest sparkle in their eyes. They were really excited to see me take pictures of the fields and the camp, and some of them posed for me. As we were getting back in the car, they came to greet us and thanked me for the pictures.

I will never forget these people, their warmness, their sincere smiles, and their simplicity..." 

The above is a passage taken from impressions expressed by Sofia Papadhimitri upon her return from a trip to Bulgaria on behalf of Goudas Foods. 

And now the process: 

Once the okra has been picked, prior to canning it has to be washed in vinegar to remove the slime and manually inserted into each can in order to avoid bruising. The whole process is executed within a very sterile environment: hats, gloves, and white working gowns are mandatory.

Each can has to have a precise amount of okra positioned in such a way to avoid damage, with enough room left to accommodate the sauce, onions, peeled tomatoes and the spices.

Of course on an experimental basis, the company has lost thousands of cans because of either over cooking or under cooking. But after the initial experiments, finally the proper temperature to achieve sterilization without overcooking was formulated and production began. 

The final product, Okra in Tomato Sauce, which you can view in the Products of this site, is truly an okra-lover's dream.

In the past Mr. Goudas received many inquiries from customers with respect to methods of cooking okra; he sincerely believes that this product will be a pleasure for okra-lovers. 

He took the product to the buyer in one of the supermarkets to have it listed in the database for this particular chain store. The buyer promptly informed Mr. Goudas that he does not like okra. Mr. Goudas informed him that the product was not meant for him but for the customers. 

Therefore, if you do not find this product on the shelf of your local supermarket, you are to make a formal request to the store manager or to the customer service department of that chain. 


Previous page: Events 2000-2004  Next page: Events 1995-1999