These artichokes are pretty, aren’t they?
Looking at them now, I have that same warm and fuzzy feeling I experienced at Meijer, when I grabbed them, like a puppet, pulling them from their big green mountain and into a clear plastic bag, wheeling away with no idea of what I was doing, smiling that I’d found them on sale.
Beyond what it says about me that my big weekend plans are, more often than not, pushing a four-wheeled grocery cart around aisles of a supermarket, I want you to know there are other reasons never to shop on Friday nights. There’s the chance you’ll be followed by a middle-aged man, for example, one who never picks anything up, just follows you, getting closer and closer and shifting back and forth on his legs, forcing you to, in desperation, abandon your cart, hugging the borders of a happy family walking to their car, breathless and scared as you drive home, without anything you needed. Another week, you might be addressed with “Hey, how you doing” by a leather-clad stranger who brushes past you, and when you don’t respond, he may shout, “Fine, great to meet you, too. That’s just fine” while you try to find your friend or really, anyone else.
But worst of all, Friday nights at the quiet grocery store have been known to wreak other kinds of damage. Damage like, say, the purchase of four beautiful artichokes, just because you saw them and they were on sale and, what with your need to be on guard about other things, you don’t know what else to do but throw them in your cart and keep moving.
Things started off O.K., I guess. When I got home, I researched online: I watched a video about peeling an artichoke, I read articles that explained what the heart was and how to remove the choke. I also flipped through several cookbooks and a couple good blogs, and I saw what my options were.
But here is what happened: I got confused. In the midst of my excitement over learning something new, I half-followed every guide and, in the end, followed none.
My first artichoke (pictured above, peeled), I kept peeling all the way to the center, and then I didn’t know why I had. So I found an article that said you should really trim each of the leaves to remove their sharp bits, and I tried that with the other three. That same article suggested steaming the clipped artichokes in a bath of water and wine and salt, which I did, but in a pan that was too small.
The end result was dark, tough artichokes, along with my original peeled one, and a big mess on the counters. The recipe I was working with (for artichoke soup) said to chop the heart and blend it in a food processor, only I couldn’t figure out which part of the cooked artichoke was really the heart, despite all the diagrams and articles. After spooning out the fuzzy, ugly choke, there was a wet, gel-like section left, with a color like dark ivory and teeny-tiny holes along the side where the choke had been. Was that the heart? If so, you’ll be glad to know I chopped it. And it was awful looking. In a weak moment, I threw it all away.
It could be disheartening, I suppose, to read this story of failure, but I’m afraid it’s all I have today. So I have an idea—a request, really—Tell me what I did wrong? Tell me what artichoke recipe you would suggest instead?
Or, for those of you who are very kind, tell me a story of your own kitchen mistake? I’d love to hear it. You’d make my day.
And in exchange, I’ll bring you something very special Friday. Really.