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Artichokes: An Italian Rite of Spring

I'm fairly certain I came out of the womb loving artichokes.

So did all of my siblings.  I can’t even remember trying them, only loving them.  And jumping up and down in anticipation of eating them come Spring.

There were six of us, Mom, Dad, me and my three siblings.  So, of course, she bought four artichokes at a time. 

She made the classic, stuffed and steamed for two hours on the stove-top.  We loved them so much, she would make us eat our dinner first and serve them to us for dessert.  

My father, still a young Irishman, could not fathom what we liked about these angry looking stalks, and he would sit there watching us peel back and scrape the leaves. 

“How can you eat those things?”

He would try a leave, make a face, and it was over for another year.  Eventually he succumbed.  In fact, he succumbed to most of the Italian food my mother put on the table once she got tired of serving the meat and potatoes fare he insisted on.

My mother would sit and watch us take the leaves off down to the heart.  And then she’d say, “I’ll eat that if you don’t want it.” 

Four Artichokes, four kids, one naysayer, and one heart eater.

We have a new artichoke lover in the family, namely, Grace the Girl.  Tried them.  Loved them.  I gave her a few words of advice:

"If you see stuffed artichokes on the menu, order them.  You will love them."

"If you see a menu item with artichoke hearts in it, don't order it.  You will hate it."

I don’t stuff them anymore.  Too much work.  I learned to grill them when I lived out West (See California Grilled Artichokes in Recipes).  Served as an appetizer.  What a concept, huh?

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