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On Flower Buds and Thorns June 9, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Family, Food, Garden, mirth & woe, random stuff, Surly Boy.
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What do we think of thistles?

I’ll be honest – when I think of them, my first thought is of the pricker plants I used to hate to step on when I’d run barefoot through the backyard.

Stupid thistles.

PhotobucketBut as with so much in life that may, at first glance, be unpleasant, thistles have their good side.  One of my favorite vegetables is a thistle.

Growing up in the Midwest in the 1970’s, I was one of the few kids I knew who had ever heard of artichokes, let alone knew how to eat them!  My father, California boy that he was, had evidently introduced my Boston-born-and-bred mother to the artichoke, presumably around the time she introduced him to the lobster.

I’m picturing it – the newlyweds, living in Chicago, and she scores a couple of live lobsters, while he proudly brings home a couple of thistle buds artichokes for his bride. . . aaah, young love!

PhotobucketSo I grew up eating (and loving!) artichokes, and, to be honest, feeling slightly superior to my peers who only saw the prickly outer leaves and had no idea what wondrous secret treasure lay hidden inside that thorn-covered globe.

A couple of weeks ago, I scored a great deal on some baby artichokes at the public market, and I knew I had to grab a couple of baskets of them, take them home and make them mine!  What I actually did was take them home and roast them, for a purpose to be determined later.  (Except pizza – roasted baby artichokes are great on pizza!)

PhotobucketYou know, whenever I see artichokes at the public market, I can’t help thinking of Surly Boy, and how much he loves them.

Fortunately for him, this was right before he came home for Memorial Day, and I was good enough to share my artichokes with him.

How could I not?

PhotobucketJust like any parent, I did my best to pass my love of the thistle on to my son.  Surly Boy couldn’t have been more then three when he tried his first artichoke, and it was instant love!

What’s not to love, especially for a toddler?  There was the danger of the sharp thorns, and there was eating with your fingers, and there was using your new teeth – now I ask you, where’s the bad?

PhotobucketThe only problem with artichokes, as I see it, was that artichokes are not native to upstate New York, where we lived.  Sure, they were available at the supermarkets -sometimes.  When they’re in season.

Try explaining that to a 4-year -old.

It was actually all good.  Until.

PhotobucketUntil one summer, we found ourselves at a farmers’ market – this was actually a natural-foods sort of place – the store you went for bulk yeast and local produce – back before that sort of thing was popular.

Heck, they even sold actual coal, though the only people I knew who bought coal were parents to stick in the Christmas stockings of their adult children.

Yeah, we’re still not amused, Mother.

Anyway.

Late one summer, I stopped in at this store with the Boy to pick up some Pomona’s Universal Pectin, and he was just astounded by the different vegetables – so much more than I grew in my little garden!  I let him wander around a bit (it was that kind of store), when I heard his little, oh-so-polite  voice.

Excuse me, sir.

You just know he was tugging on the store-keeper’s shirt-tails, wasn’t he?

Excuse me.  Do you have any . . . artichokes?

PhotobucketThe look on that man’s face was priceless – to this day, I’m not ever sure if he’d ever had an artichoke himself – and to have that teeny little boy, in the middle of nowhere, oh-so-politely inquire about them?

It was truly priceless – and even now, I’m happy to share my artichokes with that sweet little boy!

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Comments

1. mazco34 - June 9, 2010

Thistles? That’s the plant that produces the seeds for my beloved Northern Goldfinch.

Your bird eats artichoke seeds? 😯

Your beloved bird? ❓

2. Leah - June 15, 2010

mmmm, baby artichokes 🙂

Oh, yeah! I am (hearting) my baby artichoke stash, especially on my Friday night pizza!


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