Since I've had several people (okay, just about everyone) ask me for the meaning behind the Artichoke reference in the title of the blog, I shall explain:
In my opinion, everything in life can be explained in terms of an artichoke. In the case of my title, the artichoke is referencing family (the Aristotle is painfully obvious, right?). The way I see it, family is like an artichoke. There's the heart of the artichoke (parents) and the leaves (kids). Now, you can separate the heart from the leaves. Sure, artichoke hearts are everywhere. But who eats the leaves without the heart? In order for an artichoke to truly be an artichoke at its best, it must be all connected.
Life in general is like an artichoke too. When you're a kid, you're hesitant at first, slowly plucking off the leaves as you go, figuring it out. Then you get more confident and anxious and start really going at the leaves, searching for the heart. Then, life gets more complicated and you tend to be more cautious with your life, avoiding the prickly parts. And then there's the point in your life when you're just about at the heart and you know what you're doing. (God knows I'm not there --some days I feel about as smart as my eight year old). You're done figuring this whole thing out and just savoring the good part.
And then there's the obvious cliche' type one: People are like artichokes...
Finally, being raised primarily Italian, artichokes were more than simply a food in my family, but an event in our house. (If you've ever sat down with a stuffed artichoke, you know what I mean!). I can still see my sister and I sitting around the Formica table, eating stuffed artichokes, plucking off the leaves, talking, plucking, talking.
Can't resist posting my Italian Grandmother's recipe for Stuffed Arichokes:
1. Remove tiny low leaves.
2. Cut off stems.
3. Put the artichokes in a large pan, cover with salt water for 20-30 min.
4. Drain upside down.
5. Mix together:
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6. After draining, spread leaves apart and sprinkle mixture into leaves, then on top.
7. Place artichokes in a roasting pan, upright.
8. Put enough water on bottom to cover 1"
9. Drizzle with olive oil.
10. Cover and bake at 375 for one hour.