I was hanging out in my house one day after I had first moved here to New Orleans. All of a sudden, I started hearing this noise...it sounded like someone on a loudspeaker??? but the speaker sounded really muffled. It kind of worried me because I thought there was some kind of emergency or maybe it was the police!
I looked out my door to discover that it was a man rolling around in a painted pickup truck. The words "Mister Okra" were painted across the front of the truck, backwards like they do on ambulances. Mister Okra was selling produce!
Later, I found out that Mister Okra is continuing a long practice that dates back to when the French Market was started up. The French Market was like an outdoor swapmeet where people could bring in their produce and goods and sell them to the people in the area. However, not everyone could make it to the market (some people had "real jobs" i.e. running plantations) so some vendors took it upon themselves to load up carts and take them out to the people. They would paint their names on the carts so people would know who they were. The vendors would call out what they had and people could stop them and purchase the produce!
The only modern day vendor of this type that I know of is Mister Okra, painted name and all! He uses a loudspeaker to announce what he's got, and I find it wildly entertaining to hear him list off everything. He has quality produce too, which is a blessing for all the people in the Bywater, Treme and Marigny areas because there are no real grocery stores here. The only downside is that you've gotta have cash, and you have to catch him! He doesn't drive fast, but obviously you've got to be home if you want the grocery store to come to you.
It makes me smile when I hear him randomly in the neighborhood.
Here's a video someone else took of Mister Okra. He reminds me a lot of the guy who announced orders at Los Sanchez. Enjoy!