Tag: Food

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.  

News Flash

Okay, hey, in case you didn’t know, I just want to pass along this news from Connecticut.  Apparently the pandemic is over.  I had not seen this on any reputable news outlets, so it kind of took me by surprise, but in case you had missed the news, I thought I’d better fill you in.

On Friday evening, I drove out to one of our favorite restaurants to pick up our order.  The usual drill is that I call from the car and someone comes out with the bag containing our dinner, but tonight the phone was busy for about five minutes, so I figured I’d better venture into the restaurant to see if the routine had changed.  

I opened the door and stepped into a scene from some 2019 movie.  There were people crowding around a packed bar.  The dining room was filled to capacity.  Looking to my left, I saw a man whispering (or maybe shouting) into a woman’s ear.  What?  Where was I?  When was I?  I looked to my right, the café  area was crowded too.  A group of three sat around a table slightly larger than a postage stamp.  Two of them were definitely not of vaccination age.  Do they not card in this place?  They were sharing a lot more than stories, too.  You could almost see the aerosols flying.    Whichever way I looked, I saw full tables with laughing, loud-talking patrons.  Everywhere bare faces stared back at me, noses, lips  and cheeks exposed for all  to see.  It would have been breathtaking, but, out of habit,  I still felt that I should hold my breath in public.  

I inched over to the cash register clinging in vain to that passé notion of social distancing.  I wanted to tap someone and ask,  “Did they cancel the pandemic?  Is it just down for the weekend?  When was the announcement?”  People were staring at me as though they’d never seen a mask before.  I wondered if I was living some Rip Van Winkle moment.  Then a waiter approached.  He wore a mask (actually two), and it may have been my imagination, but he looked as nervous as I felt. Had he missed the memo, too? Or was it just certain people who got to go maskless?   I gave him my name, and he hurried off to find my order.  He returned quickly bearing the bag.  I thanked him and rushed for the door.  

I couldn’t wait to tell my family the news.