June 24th, 2010
Every since I heard that my local friend Kirsti has successfully grown and harvested as many as 12 artichokes a season in her small garden, I’ve been having serious artichoke envy.
For several years in my younger days I lived in California not so far from Castroville, a major hub of artichoke activity. Before I moved from east to west I had never before even tasted an artichoke. But in California you can’t go to a party or a restaurant without being offered some sort of appetizer, soup, entree or dip whose main ingredient is artichoke.
Faced with a steamed artichoke for the first time I was confused and a bit intimidated. How are you supposed to eat this baby?
The natives and seasoned immigrants quickly showed me how to peel off the outer leaves, dip them into a proffered sauce and gently nibble away or scrape the tender bottom part of the leaf with my bottom teeth. Once you’ve eaten all the leaves and remove the hairy, choke-y innards (if they’re still there) you remove the heart at the bottom, slice it up and eat that too. Oh heaven.
The only thing better is to have all that work done for you and mixed into a dip or soup or some such deliciousness that undoubtedly has unspeakable numbers of calories and a high percentage of fat. Oh, those were the days when those thoughts never even crossed my mind. *sigh*
Well, earlier this spring my artichoke envy was reaching frantic heights when I couldn’t locate any starters and was thinking I would have to start the whole process—a bit late—from seed.
Isn’t it appropriate that my friend Mary Ann from Gardens of the Wild Wild West, oh roper of cattle and wearer of cowboy boots, should come riding to my rescue? She sent me seven wonderful little plants all the way from Boise, Idaho, to plant in my garden.
I treasure these plants and fret over them. I can’t let Mary Ann (some of us call her Ida) down!
Here’s my first baby artichoke. I don’t know what’s going on with the other six plants, but one little artichoke plant has decided to encourage my efforts by pushing out a little globe about the size of a large marble.
Artichoke envy satisfied. Almost.