Sunday, March 29, 2009

To Live the Artichoke

Feast your eyes on Livi Yoshi-choke-a, a girl that gives vegetables a good name. Though the naked baby doll, purple balloon dog, and plate of bacon (candy? what is that?) are vying their hardest for your attention, clearly the artichoke princess is the belle of the ball. Wanting to know more of this artichoke's heart, I asked Livi some questions over email, which she graciously answered:

WV: Why did you dress up like an artichoke?
LY: It's one of my favorite vegetables, and having dressed up as a snail over the summer for a masquerade ball, I decided I wanted to continue the things-that-are-eaten-with-butter theme. [Editor's note: I usually eat my artichoke leaves dipped in mayonnaise or salad dressing, but I am open to trying butter after reading this.]

WV: How did the world open up for you as an artichoke?
LY: Donning the artichoke costume was definitely a moment of self-actualization. Why try to be a rose when you can be an artichoke?

WV: How has this experience changed your relationship to artichokes?
LY: When I drive through Castroville now, I feel less like I'm passing by fields of Matrix Pods, and more like I'm at a family reunion.

WV: What is your favorite weird vegetable?
LY: I'm not sure. I think the vegetables I like are pretty boring -- turnips, greens. I eat heart of palm straight out of the can, but I'm not sure that's a vegetable. I do like bitter melon a lot, that might be a bit more unusual.

Inspired by Livi's lovely costume, I steamed some artichokes to eat.

This is how:
Wash the artichokes, snip off the thorny tips of their leaves, and slice off the very end of the stem. Heat about an inch of water in a pot and lay one of those collapsible vegetable steamers down, then put the artichokes in it. Cover and steam for about 20 minutes, 30 if they're larger than your fist. You can peel off a leaf and taste the edible end for softness if you're not sure if they're done yet.

To eat: peel off one leaf at a time, dip it into your dressing of choice (mayo, butter, oil and vinegar), and use your teeth to scrape off the soft part into your mouth. You won't be able to eat the whole leaf until you get deep into the middle, where they become thin and soft. When I get to the center, I like to pluck off the little layered leafy cone and eat it whole. Then use a knife to slice off the white fuzz, and enjoy the crunchy heart. Be sure to take many sips of water in between so you can exclaim over how this thistle makes the water taste sweetlike.

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