The Demoniac Vegetable — Artichokes

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“Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke.”

Bette Davis in All About Eve

I have so loved artichokes, even since I was a young boy. I find their rather uninviting, yet intriguing exterior to be a wonder…..much like the lobster…who was the first person brave enough to decide that this was something to eat?!!? And then there is the eating process itself: pulling off leaves and sliding them between your upper and lower teeth to remove flesh, having to avoid the choke…because if you don’t …. you will….choke, that is!  Finding the tender heart and snatching it out to slowly devour it, dripping with hot butter. Wow — sounds a bit ritualistic and frightening.

Rather than go into the bloody detail of it all, if your are interested in step-by-step directions, go to: http://www.wikihow.com/Eat-an-Artichoke

The more I think and write on this subject the more I wonder why I even began! So in my just-past-middle-aged wisdom, I decided to grow my own artichokes…… what else should an aging Tin Man do to entertain himself (?), my rusty knees  can’t get in and out of an inappropriate sports car and it is too hard to keep a toupee on top of this funnel head! In my first attempt, I order plants [at a whim] and put them in the garden ….. during the drought, when temperatures remained over 100 degrees — did I mention that artichokes like cooler temperatures……so I nursed my plants through the searing heat, as they turned their burnt faces up to me every day and wondered why I was holding them hostage in this horrific hades of a place. As the temperatures cooled and they began to look as though survival was possible, a young lad offered to till the garden…………yes, you guessed it  …..goodbye artichokes!

So as the Fall approached, with promises of a mild Winter, I began my quest once again….and found an amazing person who sends the most wonderful plants in the world: http://www.sweetheartartichokes.com/buy.htm  Should you ever decide that you too want to wander down this path, I strongly suggest acquiring plants from her.

So the plants arrived and were so most lovely…………………… into the ground they went far from the garden, in a place the tiller could not go! Guess what……Spring is here and we have ARTICHOKES!!!

You, of course, know by now that I could have purchased approximately 300 artichokes for what I have endured; however, what satisfaction would lie in taking that route!  I do know that if I am ever in possession of 300 artichokes at once, I shall give them to the flying monkeys to hail down on the head of the Wicked Witch of the West who lives at the bottom of the hill, in retribution for NEVER removing her garbage can from the curb!  Click here for more information about that.

Moving on…………see how beautiful the plants have become……so lush and green, bursting with life!

…………..and now the fruit is bursting forth!!!                                                                                                                              Somehow, I am expecting a catastrophic event to put an end to this.

Did you know that the artichoke even has its own legend!??! It seems that according to an Aegean legend and in a song by the poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the first artichoke was a lovely young girl [Cynara] who lived on the island of Zinari. Zeus was visiting (as he often did) his brother Poseidon one day when, as he emerged from the sea, he spied a beautiful young mortal woman. She was not frightened by the presence of a god, and therefore; Zeus seduced her.

 He was so pleased with Cynara the he decided to make her a goddess, so that she could be nearer to his home on Olympia [can’t you hear the church lady proclaiming: “isn’t that special!”] Cynara agreed to the promotion and Zeus anticipated all sorts of trysts with her when his wife, Hera as away…..oh the lives of gods and goddesses! But as luck would have it, Cynara missed her mother and was homesick, so she snuck back to the land of mortals for a visit. Zeus found this behavior appalling and hurled her back to earth and transformed her into the plant we now know as the artichoke.

In his journal of June 19, 1576, Pierre de L’Estoile writes:

“The Queen Mother ate so much she thought she would die, and was very ill with diarrhoea. They said it was from eating too many artichoke bottoms and the combs and kidney of cockerels, of which she was very fond.”

Eating an artichoke is like getting to know someone really well.”

Willi Hastings

“These things are just plain annoying. After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual “food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps. Have the shrimp cocktail instead.” 

 Miss Piggy

…………lovely thoughts………just had to share them, now go eat an artichoke!

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20 responses »

  1. My dear friend,

    If life did not require some work from this soul I would just sit around and glorify in your works of wisdom-the artichoke poem is GREAT! Keep it going TINMAN until we can share another adventure on some far corner of this amazing world! Margo

  2. Great post! You managed to make a piece on the simple artichoke lively with the many references from Bette Davis to mythology to Miss Piggy. I am impressed that you are able to grow your own. Enjoy!

  3. What a wonderful story!!!! I want to know more about this demoniac plant very intresting…….and the way you explain it WOW!!!! Very well said.

  4. Oh, for the love drama, your post is Oscar-worthy! I loved the quotes, back story and historical tidbits. Delicious reading! I’m now grinning. You gave me great witty dinner party material. Plus, you kicked off the post with a quote from one of my favorite films on earth. Speaking of delicious scenes, Margo Channing will always be my hero! Enjoy the day! Theadora

    • Theadora………….you MADE my day! what wonderful comments! The entire post was quite true and the drama was real (of course I must have it!!!) I may post about these creatures again as they mature and become god knows what! To you, Margo Channing and all your future wonderful dinner parties! Thank you so for making my day!

  5. Fabulous post! First of all, I love a good artichoke — a little melted butter or mayonnaise and heaven! — even though this holds true in every way:

    “These things are just plain annoying. After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual ”food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps. Have the shrimp cocktail instead.”

    I was cracking up, so thank you; I needed a laugh this morning.

    And yes, I would agree with my friend The Coastal Crone; you really did manage to take something quotidian and turn it into an article worth reading. I too am impressed you are able to grow such such a fickle vegetable on your own.

    Blessings,
    Cara

  6. A lovely post, I love your style of writing.
    You made me laugh while also making me feel intrigued.
    I’m really happy your artichokes are coming along so well.
    I hope the meals you make from them are truly gorgeous.

    Your talk of Artichokes reminds me of an old joke which goes a little something like this….

    A man goes in to Tesco for a sandwich one day to find his wife with another man.

    He decides not confront his wife but to keep going back to Tesco to see if this is a regular thing.
    To his dismay he finds that it is, and that it happens every Friday
    lunchtime.

    The man keeps quiet for a couple of months going to Tesco every Friday lunchtime in order to follow the unknown man and his wife around the shop.

    The man can take no more and begins drinking in his local every chance
    he gets.
    One evening he is telling a man at the bar about his dilemma
    and asks him what he should do.
    The man replies that he knows someone who would do them both over and will arrange a meeting if he wants.

    A meeting is arranged for the following evening in the pub.

    The man is introduced to a huge bloke called Arti.

    He tells him the story and Arti says that he will do them over together in Tesco.

    The man asks about a fee and Arti tells him that he loves to kill people and will accept a token fee of a pound.

    The deal is done and the place is set to Tesco on Friday lunchtime.

    Arti awaits their arrival and follows them around the shop for a while and then pounces on them, strangling them both with his bare hands.
    As Arti runs out of the shop two security guards tackle him to the ground and wait for the police.

    He is caught and tried for murder and found guilty.

    The headline in the paper the next day read:

    ARTI CHOKES TWO FOR A POUND AT TESCO

    Hope you enjoyed, sorry for the length.

    -Pepper

  7. This reminds me of a special I had at a restaurant once. It was fried artichoke hearts on a pita with a chipotle sauce and some fresh veg. Best thing ever. I have went back since but sadly they have not had it since. I will just have to make it on my own some day. Let me know if you have ideas!

  8. I never really thought much about the the artichoke, I just know I liked them….but after reading your posts about different foods, along with all the information you share…It always encourages me to look more deeply into them. Wow the medicinal aspects of this food is almost as amazing as the taste! Thanks for expanding my knowledge beyond the dinner plate.

  9. Pingback: And the Nominees are…The Versatile Blogger Award, Part 2 « AirportsMadeSimple.com

  10. Pingback: Visiting the Neighbors – Enjoying the Garden « Tales and Travels of the Tinman

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