Ode to a Work of Art-ichoke

A fellow slicer and Westporter, Erika, shared an interesting prompt for a quick write.  It involved making a shopping list and writing about one of the food items on the list that you love.  I’m trying that here.

  • Blah
  • Blah
  • Blah
  • Artichoke
  • Blah 
  • Blah 
  • Blah
  • Butter
  • Blah
  • Lemons

Okay, I don’t really have a shopping list in mind.  We have some friends over this weekend, and Nancy’s making a birthday dinner for one of them.  It has brought to mind my favorite birthday food.  It doesn’t really matter what the main course or the dessert is.  I just want artichoke.

I’m not sure when I first fell in love with this food, but at some point in my early childhood, the smile that extended on either side of an artichoke petal as I dragged it over my bottom teeth, and the ecstatic rolling back of my eyes as I savored the taste, gave my mom the clue that this might be a good birthday treat.  From then on, it became a family ritual.

My wife has extended that ritual from my youth into adulthood and beyond.

I realize that it’s an odd favorite food, but I have my reasons.  I like foods that involve a process.  I think that’s why I also like crab and lobster.  There just aren’t that many foods that involve a leaf-by-leaf unfolding of the meal.  Pluck a petal.  Dip it in a bowl of melted butter and lemon.  Hoist the petal to your mouth.  Drag it over your lower teeth.  Scrap the scraped petal.  Wipe your chin with a napkin.  Repeat.  I wonder about the first person who figured this out. I would like to thank them.

I love that the leaves on the outside are tougher and meatier, but the leaves on the inside are smoother and softer.  It reminds me of some people I’ve known, with rough exteriors but tender hearts.  I suppose you could say that about lots of nuts…and other foods with shells, but I choose to focus on the artichoke-human connection.

I like the dipping part of the ritual, too.  There is something religious about the process.  Is it a baptism or a communion?  Perhaps it’s both!  Pluck the petal off the bulb, dip the petal in the holy lemon butter, draw the leaf toward the mouth, then, hold the leaf with your prayerful, close your eyes, draw all the goodness you can gain from the leaf, and savor.   I know this is a heretical thought, but wouldn’t communion be more transporting if the body and blood were the petal portion and the lemon butter?  Would it be okay if I just imagined on my birthday that I was taking the best communion of the year…or that on the first Sunday of every month I imagined I was eating artichoke and butter instead of bread and grape juice?

I love that artichoke takes time.  I’m guilty of eating most food way too fast.  I try to remind myself to pause and enjoy.  With artichoke there is no need for admonition.  Like the small moments in our lives, it must be taken slowly and appreciated petal by petal.  

12 thoughts on “Ode to a Work of Art-ichoke

  1. What a clever and beautifully written slice! I still remember eating my first artichoke after I moved to California at the age of 13. Astonishing! And yes, whoever figured out how you could eat an artichoke in the first place!?

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  2. Another well-craft slice! Such a treat for me, the reader. You craft this piece so well. I think it is just the answer to a food prompt and will be about an articoke. But then it is about so much more! I love how you weave metaphors to help me better understand. I humbly admit that I have never eaten an artichoke but am adding it to my shopping list, along with lemin. Thanks for teaching me to give this food a try and so much more through your slice.

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  3. Yes – I agree about that communion of artichoke and holy lemon butter. How clever! It’s all about the mindset and symbolism of communion, so I think you can change this up to make it the acknowledgment and appreciate of His sacrifice as you remember. Or at the very least, call it a bonus communion – – a booster communion of sorts. What a clever and creative way to slice, and to think of the process of savoring an artichoke.

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  4. Ahhh…artichokes. I love how you describe eating the leaves, the ritual of the lemon butter. And you’re right – an artichoke is not a food you can just wolf down quickly. It takes time to work your way through it (also another metaphor waiting to happen, I do believe).

    As for me, I also grew up eating artichokes. I think on those nights, it was the only thing that got served, and magically no one complained. For us, our dipping ritual involved mayo / Miracle Whip (poor man’s aioli). Thanks for bringing back the memories!

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  5. I had never given artichokes much thought until I met my husband, and now we eat them all the time. We like them with grated cheese sprinkled on the leaves. A little off topic, but a store I love in the Cape is called ARTichoke like your title!

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  6. You cause us to slow down and savor the process, the way you described the eating of the artichoke. My grandma occasionally made stuffed artichokes. Another one of my favorites I haven’t thought about in a long time.

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  7. Great title! Great slice! I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t think I’ve ever eaten an artichoke, other than, I hesitate to mention, in a dip. I have now challenged my husband–we are going to get artichokes and eat them. Soon! I’ll keep you posted on our inaugural artichoke eating experience. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I certainly hope they don’t disappoint. We don’t do anything fancy with the artichokes. We sometimes trim the ends of the leaves before we boil them. Then you just need a small dish (ramekin –sp?) with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon. Let me know how it goes.

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  8. Such a gorgeous piece of writing! The detailed ritual of the eating, the comparison to religious rituals: so clever! This piece describes my later father’s enjoyment of artichokes and you have brought him to me in a happy memory today. Many thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I haven’t had an artichoke in YEARS and now I really really want one. Your description is mouth-watering. Mmmm… Favourite line: “wouldn’t communion be more transporting if the body and blood were the petal portion and the lemon butter?” Heretical? Sure. True? Yes!

    Liked by 1 person

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