There are many moments of parenting that result in stupendous self-doubt. If you have kids, you’ll know what I mean. And if you have kids, your moments of self-doubt are doubtlessly going to be different than mine. That I guarantee. There is one moment, however, when I have no doubts: serving artichokes.
“Artichokes?” you say. “How do artichokes and kids go together?” I can’t really tell you, other than you play the hand your dealt. Maybe your kid likes the piano. Or maybe your kid likes baseball. Or maybe your kid likes reading. And someone else’s kid likes playing in the mud. My kids like artichokes. At least one of them does.
A long time ago, before kids, Santa Maria introduced me to them, and we used to have them fairly often. They became notorious around our house because Nina is so proud that she likes them. They are, she will tell you, her favorite vegetable. Now, if you know anything about the way artichokes are typically served, saying they are a vegetable is getting a little into the realm of the Reagan era, when ketchup in school lunches was allegedly declared a vegetable. I’m sure the thing that Nina likes about the artichokes is the copious amounts of melted butter that accompany each bite.
Tonight I served them again, and Pinta, who has typically spurned them, decided to try some. When she saw the cooked artichoke in the bowl, she said, “I thought that was a big mess of hair.” She gamely ate a few leaves, and a bit of the heart. Maybe she’ll like them even more next time.
There is a very good reason to introduce them around the house, even if your kid decides that they look worse than a big mess of hair. They are odd things, and if you are not taught how to eat them, you might not figure it out. You might end up like this grown lady, the “Anonymous Executive” blogger, who found herself facing artichokes for the first time at a business lunch and spent thirty minutes chewing on one leaf. At least I have spared my children that fate—even if they are still, at an age when they should know better, struggling to use a fork. Whew.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, and give a recipe for cooking artichokes that you might not find anywhere else. Every recipe I’ve seen for an artichoke has been full of instructions to trim the top, trim the bottom, trim the inside, and trim the outside. I say forget all that and just do the following. I have no doubts about it.
Simple Steamed Artichokes
1 artichoke per person
Slice about ½ inch off the bottom of each stem.
Place in a pot of water and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a low boil and cook until the outer leaves come off fairly easily, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of each artichoke and how many people you are feeding.
Serve with melted butter (with a bit of lemon in it) and eat thusly (courteous of the “Anonymous Executive.”)