I wish you could have seen Tim and me in our little galley kitchen on Saturday, October 12, at around 2 p.m. in the afternoon. There we were, side by side in front of the sink, each of us with a plate of slow-cooked artichokes to our sides. Barely speaking, the both of us stood there, rhythmically pulling tender, wilted leaves of artichokes off their softened, deep green bulbs, scraping the flesh with our teeth, oil and juices dripping down our hands and arms and over everything.
“These are the best artichokes I have ever had,” Tim finally said to me between slurps, halfway through his dish.
“They should be, with all that butter and wine and garlic!” I responded, ever the one to mentally tally ingredients costs as we cook.
We concluded that these artichokes, from Emeril Lagasse’s newest cookbook, are no everyday side dish. Even though they’re made in a slow cooker, these are not artichokes to serve alongside a boring main course; these are Celebratory Artichokes, the indulgent sort of thing to wow guests with at a dinner party—and preferably one where you provide a lot of napkins. Calling them celebration artichokes has other significance as well, as there we were, eating them, three days before celebrating being married two years and, also, one day after I met Stephanie for coffee.
I’ve known Stephanie since December of last year, ever since she wrote a brilliant article about vulnerability for Darling Magazine. After the hour or so I spent with her at Fido, I came away with a renewed belief in the power of sharing our stories with one another because, if you’ve ever met Stephanie you already know, that’s the kind of thing you walk away feeling after meeting this girl whose eyes light up when the word storytelling is said. “Stories are how we connect with one another,” she said to me when I asked her why sharing our experiences with each other matters. “They remind us we’re not alone.” And the one that especially got me: “Not everyone has the ability to articulate their experiences. If you do, it’s a gift, and you should use it.”
Her thoughts affected me so much, I’ve talked about them with Tim and with Joanna and with Kathryn and Jivan on our Greenville anniversary trip. I’ve thought about them while we traveled, when I went to write a blog post on the morning of our anniversary, when I’ve been tempted to avoid personal stories and talk in a surface way instead. So when I saw a video last week of a brand figurehead—the brand figurehead over even this new book from Emeril that we were asked to review—dismissing bloggers with a wave of her hand, it’s no surprise I thought about Stephanie’s words again.
We live in a competitive world where everyone is trying to find a claim to fame, a reason to be noticed, a purpose to makes his or her existence make sense. Sometimes, these motivations make us belittle others. We have to be the Smart One or the Pretty One or the Expert. We can’t let someone else be on top. We compare ourselves; we strive to be something. We want to be the one who is praised and admired and emulated. We want to be the best. But whether or not bloggers are the best, whether or not they are experts, doesn’t matter to me. The fact that so many of them, including Stephanie, have changed my way of seeing the world does.
“I don’t think our job is to tell each other what to do,” Stephanie said to me that Friday afternoon at Fido. “I think we’re supposed to walk on our paths and take a minute to turn around to the people a few steps behind us and say, ‘Hey, look out, there’s a rock!’”
I’m thankful for the people who have done that for me, who do that for me, in magazines and on cooking shows, at my kitchen table and through computer screens. I’m thankful for the big brands and the little Web journals and the individuals who generously share their stories, whether those stories are tales of kitchen failures or the tested recipes on glossy pages of professional cookbooks. We’re, all of us, simple human beings, even when we’re puffing ourselves up with accolades, even when we’re trying to define our meaning through titles or praise. We’re, all of us, not that different. We all want to matter. We all want to be loved.
Special thanks to Martha Stewart Living for letting us share this recipe with you here today.
disclaimer: We were given an advance copy of Emeril’s cookbook, which launches October 22, as well as a beautiful six-quart slow cooker, for this post. All opinions expressed are our own. We feel a little overwhelmed with how much we’re being given lately, and we already have our own slow cooker, so we’re giving both of these products away. Use the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to enter. The book giveaway will be given to a random user picked by the widget; the slow cooker will go to a random US resident. Contest ends October 28.