Monday, March 14, 2011

Artichoke, Made With Love

The term morning sickness is a bad joke. Try all day sickness, with hospital visits and iv treatments thrown in. My stomach was not my friend, neither was food.

The times that I actually wanted to eat something, I found that I wanted things remembered from my childhood. Clearly Canadian. Shortbread. Fruit Roll-ups.

I was curled up in our white and grey striped chair trying to get excited about eating, when I had a memory...

I was six years old, dancing around the kitchen impatiently, as Mom trimmed off the bottom of the artichoke stem and cut off some outer leaves. She handed me our orange, plastic mixing bowl, and I filled it halfway with water. Mom put the artichoke in upside down, and the bowl went into the microwave. I stood in front, looking through the glass door and counting down the numbers with the timer.

We weren't a kitchen table kind of family. There were silver and green tv trays that we used most nights, but if we were sharing something, we would sit on the floor and use the coffee table. It was wood with a glass top, and just big enough for all three of us to sit around.

Two glass bowls, one with melted butter for my Dad and one with mayonnaise for my mom, sat on the table. The artichoke was in the center where everyone could reach it.

It was a little strange to be encouraged to eat leaves, but I quickly got the hang of it. Pulling off a leaf, dipping it in mayonnaise or butter, and then scraping the soft part off with my teeth. 

One leaf at a time, we ate the artichoke, savoring each bite.

When all the leaves were gone, Dad scraped off the fuzzy stuff and divided the heart. I watched closely, because Mom had told me the heart was the best part, and I wanted to make sure that all three pieces were the same size.

Sitting in my striped chair, pregnant and suddenly hungry, I knew this was what I wanted.

I couldn't remember how much water to use, or how long to cook it, and I didn't have that orange mixing bowl, but I was determined to have an artichoke for dinner.

That night, Thomas said he would take care of it. He got an artichoke on his way home from work. He trimmed and cleaned it, and put it in a pot full of water on the stove. I was insistent that Mom had used the mixing bowl so the artichoke wouldn't roll around while cooking, so he stood there with tongs, holding the artichoke still while the water boiled around it, steam hitting him in the face.

When the artichoke was ready, I peeled off the first leaf, dipping it in mayonnaise, and scraping off the soft part with my teeth. It was everything I remembered. Warm. Slightly sweet. Fun to eat.

I shared it with Thomas, but I definitely ended up eating more than my half of that artichoke. Savoring each bite.

41 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to know how to cook an artichoke! Yum! How long did he boil it? How do you prepare it for cooking? I'm going to have to do some searching now that you have my curiosity piqued.
    Lovely little story. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Oh this brought back some glorious memories of artichoke night at my house. There was always a fun fight for the heart!

    I'm now going to have to make artichoke tonight (if not sooner!)

    Thanks for such a great memory!

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  3. Beautiful! If I didn't already love artichokes I would now! :)

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  4. I love artichokes! Yum! I have a steamer that I cook mine in. I never though to microwave it though. Mmm, now I want artichokes!

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  5. I've never eaten an artichoke like that. I've only had artichoke hearts in Italian dishes.

    Aren't you the one who told me about the Fighting Artichokes?

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  6. ooooooooooooh

    I love artichokes like this.

    I also like when the leaves are breaded and covered with cheese.

    YUM

    I hope you feel better soon!

    that is all

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  7. I always reached for the comfort foods from my childhood with each pregnany:) Love this post!

    Hang in there! It will get better!

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  8. I love this. I love the incredible love story you've written in-between the lines, the moment of tenderness and patience. As perfect as that artichoke.

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  9. Well, that settles it. I have to try artichoke. Never had one. Loved your post and you nailed the descriptions.
    Nicely done!

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  10. Great memory, even more savory in the context of morning sickness! I love artichokes, anytime. But, when I was pregnant, I craved them...Big Time (no pun intended!)!! Thanks for sharing & sending me back to one of my own preggo delights, even when morning sickness was full blown. :>

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  11. I LOVE artichokes! And you? Described exactly why!

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  12. This is such a great story! I love how you all shared it on the coffee table.

    Great writing!

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  13. I have never had an artichoke, unless you count them in dips, I loved reading how to make them, steam them and how even PG (and I had terrible MS ..all day too) you were able to eat it.

    Yummy! visiting from TRDC

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  14. that was really beautiful, tracie. i retreat to foods from long ago when i'm pregnant too. it's kind of strange. or maybe not, looking for comfort in childhood things actually makes a lot of sense.

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  15. Yum. I can see your husband sweating over that hot pot getting that artichoke just perfect for you! TRDC

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  16. I love articokes just like that, butter or mayo, sometimes a little balsamic. And I love that Thomas stood there holding the artichoke still while he got an unintended facial, he was lucky you shared at all!

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  17. The only thing about this that makes me sad is that you ONLY ATE ONE!!! We usually sit down to two or more apiece...and my kids then try to wrangle some of mine after gobbling up all of theirs...

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  18. loved it! love how you described each moment and how artichokes saved you from morning sickness. I love artichokes and I remember my mom cooking them like a special treat. yum!

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  19. This is a fantastic memory. I love how it went full circle. The traditions are so sweet.

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  20. Sounds yummy. I love food memories. I need to put more food in my fiction.

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  21. Oh YUM! I love artichokes and I'm not even pregnant. And to have someone to hold it with tongs for you. How lucky can you be?

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  22. Artichokes are yummy, but I am the only one in my family who likes them. You described a family 'ritual' wonderfully! I loved it!

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  23. Oh yum, now I want to make one. And I hope to hell that doesn't mean I'm pregnant, a) b/c I'm 44 w/5 kids and b) my husband has had THAT taken care of. Oh yeah, and because it was 9 whole months of whole day sickness, and all I wanted was french fries and gatorade (and a commode).

    But, other than that, I totally want an artichoke now. By golly, I'm going to go get one.

    Thanks for the great post, Tracie!

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  24. Your title says it perfectly, that artichoke was made with love...both times! This is so going on my list of foods to try. Loved this!

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  25. Dude, that sounds amazing! What a great childhood memory! And by my cooking standards, that is chef-worthy! YUM!

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  26. I'm 1/2 Italian...I sooo remember one of my favorite veggies as being my Nanny's Italian stuffed Artichokes. We would sit in front of the t.v. watching Tales from the Darkside while chowing down on those things! Thanks for bringing back that veggie memory. I guess I do like at least one veggie after all :)

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  27. Sweet memories and sweet to have someone who cares enough to re-create them for us :)

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  28. Oh, yum! We never ate artichoke much, and I don't now. I did cook them once many years ago because I wanted to know how, and I really liked it. I bet my son would think these are so fun to eat. Will have to try it!

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  29. Comfort foods come in so many forms! I love artichokes but rarely make them. But now I must!

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  30. I didn't have my first artichoke until shortly after my husband and I married. I loved them. So much so that we eat them on a regular basis FOR dinner.

    I'm so glad you found something your stomach could handle.

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  31. Your description of everything reminds me of my childhood. Except I never ate it with butter, just thousand island dressing, and now nothing but ranch!

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  32. Stopping by from SITS.

    Sweet memory. I've always been intimidated by fresh artichokes, now I'll have to give it a whirl!

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  33. I love artichokes. I always eat mine with mayonnaise, too.

    I'm always stunned when someone hasn't tried them.

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  34. Bleck! I agree...morning sickness is a joke of a name! I was throwing up sometimes 3 times daily with both pregnancies...BLAH! I love artichoke dip and have eaten the hearts before but never had a whole one...I will have to try it!

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  35. Love artichokes..although have never eaten one like this..my parents have talked about it...and now you've definitely inspired me to break into the kitchen and try something new!

    Loved this post! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  36. Oh, we love love love artichokes around here! The best is when we're camping and hubs makes them on the campfire! Cut in half lengthwise, and scrape out the choke part. Fill that hole with butter and garlic. Wrap in foil and put over the fire until you smell artichoke! So delicious!

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  37. By the end of this piece, I was smiling away. I love that Thomas took care of it for you - so sweet! What a fabulous memory. And you've also reminded me that I really want to try making artichokes!

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  38. Artichokes are very french. We usually eat one per person. We put ours in a pressure cooker and cook for about a half an hour. If it's in a covered pot then it's more like 45 minutes to an hour with water on bottom of the pan, enough that won't run out but it doesn't have to cover the artichokes. When the leaves come off easily it's ready. You don't have to trim the entire stem off because it's as good as the heart. You can leave about a half inch.

    For the sauce, we put about a tablespoon of dijon mustard and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. You can put a splash of balsamic vinager. (If you were interested in trying something new with your artichoke). :-)

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  39. oh, artichokes!
    I never had them until I was in college.
    No going back now.

    but what I love best is how the memories and the vegetable illustrate your family.

    beautifully done.

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  40. Artichokes seem to bring great memories!

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  41. ok. so this is what an artichoke is!

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