Artichoke Virgins and Other Annoyances

Once after a truly happy hour at a local bar, a companion and I stopped at the store on our way home and there found a mound of beautiful artichokes neither too tight nor too loose and with a bit of a purple blush.

I just had to get a couple. I called to my drinking buddy, who was cruising the cucumbers, to grab a bud of garlic and a couple of lemons. After picking up a few more items, we headed for the checkout counter where he espied my artichokes.

“And what are you going to do with these?” he asked.

I immediately suggested a physical improbability. Unperturbed, he replied, “No, really, what are you going to do with it?” He admitted that he’d never eaten a fresh cooked artichoke.

Inebriation, dear hearts, is a great initiator but a poor executor, which is how, about ten minutes later, I found myself alone in the kitchen with two beautiful artichokes, diminished incentive, and a hungry guest. Persevering, I heaved a vast sigh, and began cooking.

To cook fresh artichokes, bring a half a quart of salted water to boil in a 2-quart saucepan, add no more than four truncated, trimmed, and stemmed artichokes, cover, bring to a rolling boil, and steam for about 20 minutes.

When you can stick a toothpick in the heart of the bud without a lot of resistance, remove artichokes and plunge into cold water until cooled. Invert into a colander to drain.

Serve with warm garlic butter, and teach virgin to eat. Be gentle. Be patient.