Artichokes

Jack's

Interesting that for someone who was raised on essentially meat and potatoes and carrots and peas and corn and green or jello salad and onions and salt–rarely pepper–and never asparagus, so in other words, nothing unusual I have experience with artichokes.

Every now and then (as in every few years) I remember my mom would steam artichokes. We’d dip the the large sharp-tipped leaves in mayonnaise and scrape the barely warm fleshy underside–mingled with mayo–down across our teeth. Yum.

Looking back, I imagine there would only have been just one. But that would have been impossible. How many artichokes would one have to steam for a family of 8? Or were there so few of us who liked them that it was no big deal?

A few years after I moved into this neighborhood, one of our friends, Jack Marvell, began a catering business. Oh it wasn’t just Jack. Jeanine was involved as well. In fact it’s now a flourishing family business. But one of my early memories of marvelous Marvellous Catering’s specialties was–and this is how it reads across my handwritten recipe–Jack’s Artichoke Dip. Obviously my copy of the recipe–hand-written by my friend Lynda–is just the essentials. I’m sure there are grilled or sautéed peppers and other delights involved now. But my recipe is full of cheeses and marinated artichokes and mayo and then heated until bubbly and scooped up generously in Fritos Scoops – which seem to be created specifically for just such an occasion. It’s a wicked but rare indulgent. Perhaps more appreciated for its rarity. Now artichoke dip is fairly standard at many a restaurant, but Jack’s was the first (I recollect) and is still the very best.

Finally, I have another recipe that called for marinated artichokes. Josh Bingham’s tortellini salad. It’s also yum and a meal in a salad. And contains another favorite ingredient my remedial palate did not experience until adulthood – avocado.

My favorite part of this recipe is not so much the artichokes, but the directions:

Cook tortellini (do not overcook and do not rinse); cool in fridge. (Note: I always rush this part because I cannot wait.) When cool, toss pasta with the next 7 ingredients and half the dressing. Refrigerate long enough for the flavors to fall in love and marry (Note: Again, I rush. Also, this part is better in Italian, which is the language of the original recipe. Also the language of love.) Toss in tomatoes and avocado and however much dressing you’d like. Then serve.

So yeah. Artichokes. I’m a fan.

[Day 118 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

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