Friday, September 20, 2013

How to eat an artichoke

1978. Restaurant: Eathquake Ethel's.

Earthquake Ethel's was a restaurant where every so often, the floor shook and earthquake scenes with sound flashed across a screen. This was a new experience for a young woman who had recently left her dreary life in Combined Locks, Wisconsin. My friend suggested the artichoke stuffed with shrimp salad. Oh, why not. New place, new food.

The artichoke came sitting with attitude on a plate. Voraciously, I devoured the shrimp salad. "What's wrong?" Mary Lyn asked as I stared at the remaining artichoke. "I don't know how to eat this", I replied. Indeed we did not grow artichokes on Neff Road. I embarked on an adventure that I appreciate to this day.

With my sister's new heart healthy diet, I hiked the aisles of Meijers looking for low salt, low fat foods. My sister who had a taste for artichokes asked me to check them out. A small display of artichokes was nestled next to the peas. "How do you fix those," asked a voice from behind me. The voice belonged to a woman in charge of handing out pieces of watermelon in hopes to lure customers into buying one to take home.

"What?" I asked.

"How do you fix one of those (referring the the artichokes)? I always thought I'd like to try one." Now that lesson that I'd learned twenty-five years ago was proving to be useful. I could relate....and did.

How to eat an artichoke:

Cut stem from the bottom of the artichoke. Cut off the tips of the top leaves removing the prickly end. (I use scissors.) Wash thoroughly under cold water gently pulling the leaves back so water can rinse through the leaves. Place the artichoke, bottom down, in a pan with 2"of salt water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook until leaves are easily pulled from the next to bottom row of the artichoke flower. Can be cooked without a lid; however, keep an eye on the water so it doesn't run dry. Takes approximately 30-45 minutes.

Time to eat! After you pull each leaf off the flower, pull the soft side across your bottom teeth. After all leaves are removed and munched, the fuzzy innards of the artichoke are exposed. Using a shallow cut, remove the fuzzy center. Now only the heart remains to be cut into pieces and devoured. Serve with mayonnaise or melted butter.

The woman with the watermelon samples was quite pleased. I think she was now prepared for the adventure. Should you choose to try an artichoke, remember that the eating experience is just about as much fun as the wonderful taste of this vegetable. Bon appetit! 

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