I grew up eating whole artichokes with homemade mayo for dipping. These were a treat, something my mother and I would share or, when I was big enough, eat side by side. If we were eating the same head, there would always be a bit of tension when we got down to the heart, the best part. My mother would usually give it to me, after making sure to scrape out all remnants of the choke. I had pictured my death at the hand of an artichoke many times, but so long as there was someone around to double check my cleaning job, the danger only made the heart all the more desirable.
I never remembered artichokes as a seasonal treat, but now I realize they must have been. Lately, the markets have been full of them, and when I see a beautiful bin, I can’t help but grab a pair (carefully) for my weekday lunches.
Whole steamed artichokes are still one of my favorite meals when I am alone. I remember calling my mother up on the phone the first time I tried to make them myself. And, even a week ago, I’ll admit that I picked up the phone again for her to remind me how best to prepare them without a steamer. She told me to simply use my Dutch oven, and to fill it up with enough water to cover the artichoke’s heart. While my artichoke cooked, I made the mayo from scratch, using fresh scallions and a sprinkle of capers to add a fresh/briny punch.
Forty minutes later, my artichoke was ready. It took me less than half the time to devour it, all the way down to the heart, which I cleaned delicately, and then enjoyed all to myself. — Phoebe