Monday, June 9, 2008

Artichokes and optimism

Despite my talent for kvetching and misanthropy, I’m actually an optimist. Or at least I think of myself as one.

No, seriously (mostly, anyway). When I feel absurd self pity and irrational anger (like, say, yesterday), I should clue in and realize that it’s my body talking, not me. I often don't, but as I've mentioned before, I can be a slow learner.

One of my favorite moments in a book is in Kipling’s Kim. Kim has schlepped his elderly lama all over the back of beyond, up and down the Himalayas. The poor kid is cooked. He simply cannot go any further. And because he can’t go further, he feels he’s failed his lama, and he begs for forgiveness. The old man gently tells Kim he's been working too hard, that it’s Kim's body, not his heart, that is speaking, that Kim has not failed anybody, and that rest will allow Kim’s body and mind to recover. This is an extremely rough précis, since I can’t find my copy of Kim, but, I like it for a number of reasons- the touching devotion between the old man and the youth, and the gentle tolerance and acknowledgement that the lama has for the ways our bodies can affect our minds, and the kind way that he gives Kim a chance to forgive himself. I thought of the scene this morning, when, after too many days of tenacious pessimism, I woke up content and happy. I realized that my antibiotics have finally gained enough traction that even if my body still has a ways to go on overall recovery, my optimism has returned.

However, optimism or no, the weather still sucks. It sounds funny to say, since this evening, we had glorious, huge spills of sunshine (we're back to rain being spattered against the windows now). The wind also blew several trees down, one blocking the major road into my neighborhood, and it’s whooshing about, but beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to sunshine, and I’m still glad to have a bit. I’m sure then when we get too much, and it gets hotter than I’d like, I’ll fuss. It seems I may be the Goldilocks of weather.

But I am not the Goldilocks of artichokes. I like artichokes most ways. My favorite way to cook them at home is to braise them and eat them whole (recipe following). It requires quite a bit of trimming, but the tender, delicious result is well worth it. I’ve been eyeing the recipe Mark Bittman recently published in the New York Times, and I like sautéed with garlic and Serrano ham, deglazing the pan with a little sherry. In a minute, I'll start in on how I like them in a box, and with a fox… well, it’s artichoke season. May as well enjoy.


Great Big Veg Challenge said...

We have just posted an artichoke recipe you might enjoy. One of my son's favourite numbers. Strangely artichokes have become a favourite for him...

cook eat FRET said...

ok - i'm caught up.

i am an artichoke lovah. seriously one of my favorite things in the world...

i'd type more but i'm too weak from being raw vegan.


Anonymous said...

But do you like them in the rain? ;)
Nice post with a lesson to learn :)

Cote de Texas said...

Thanks for the comment!!!

My favorite part of artichockes are the special plates you can use with them!!! I'm such a no vigetable kind of person. :)

Meg said...

Charlotte- the one with the lamb? It looks fantastic. I have a bit of a grilling phobia, due to our daughter grilling her hands a few years ago (she was, after a few distressing weeks, as good as new). I think they'd still be good run under the broiler- do you think?

Claudia- It's hard to go wrong with artichokes. Sort of weird to consider how people figured out how to make a thistle edible, but I'm happy someone sorted it out.

Maryann- And on the train. But I like them better in a house, even if there's a mouse (but please, no rats).

Joni- The amount of work you've put into the posts about the different designers has to have been substantial. The results of your efforts have been really interesting to look at.

I have enough foods on a list of things I should like that I don't that I can't throw even a very small pebble. But... when you say you're not really a vegetable kind of person, surely you're not tarring the mighty potato with that brush... right? said...

Meg... I think this is the first time I've seen an artichoke growing and not cut. I had an idea but never knew they grew like that.. thanks for the pic.

Meg said...

Joe- I often let them bloom rather than harvesting them; they're such an improbably looking plant.