It’s a little bit funny,
– to describe how I learned about artichokes.
I didn’t learn about artichokes in a grocery store – not on a health food channel, nor from any gardening experience – until we found the seeds for the village.
I learned about artichokes in highschool – in an advanced Spanish class.
Our teacher – a woman as knowledgable as she is kind – had decided to teach us – not only about the language –
-but the music, and the culture of other worlds – and words – and their meaning.
She wanted us to understand the human stories that existed between the newspaper articles, and differences.
“In order to understand a language,” she explained carefully-prounounced español, “You have to be able to understand expressions.”
She took in a breath to let that sink in before continuing, “Not everything that we say and express – makes sense – in the way that you expect it to – and it’s important to be aware of that when you are learning a new language.”
“So for example, we have the phrase – “Okie-Dokie, Arti-chokie…”
We all nodded, understanding. I had heard the phrase, I just had yet to discover the vegetable.
“If you listen as a new language speaker to only the words – you will be confused.”
“…but if you listen to the heart, you will understand.”
She kept our attention.
“So you have to learn – to listen for the meaning behind the words. How do they intend for you to feel when they are communicating? Do they want you to smile back? Do they want you to go get lunch? Are they trying to tell you a truth that is beyond the words that you have to interpret?”
She continued. “When they say this phrase, we don’t mean, ‘let’s go get an artichoke.’ We’re not saying that ‘artichokes are okay’. We are not even saying that we like them.”
“What we are saying – has absolutely nothing to do with artichokes – and everything to do with the rhythm of speech and comfortable conversation.”
“-all people understand better in rhymes, which are easier to memorize.”
Our Spanish teacher then explained that because all human beings like pleasant sounds, we also say the words that we think sound pleasant.
She pulled out a tape-player, and a tape.
“I made this for you.” She said.
And she turned on the music.
It was popular music – in Spanish – in the style that we listened to in those years.
“At first, I was thinking that I would have you read more poetry – but then, I realized that songs were also poetry. So I thought I would share some songs with you.”
Everyone in the room was genuinely amazed at the sounds of the artists, and the songs were catchy, and we went through several weeks singing the lyrics and getting them stuck in our heads. Everything from traditional songs to popular songs to Christmas carols.
“If you like the songs, and memorize them, you will understand how to use your verb tenses well.”
And so – we did.
That’s my artichoke story.
It turns out, artichokes are not just expressions, green succulent-looking veggies-
-artichokes are a form of thistle – a flower – with a heart.
It is easy to look at an artichoke, and come up with words that sound pokey – starry and somehow full-circle and okie.
An artichoke can grow both in the wild, and be cultivated – so it’s an easy-going kind of veggie.
Artichoke flowers are flavorful, and not only used as a veggie, but also crushed for teas, and liqueur around the world.
One of the best parts about the artichoke – is the heart.
It takes a lot of layers to reach the tender heart of the thistle.
Just like the meaning of the words are one thing, this star-of-Bethleham shining plant that is believed to have originated in the mediterranean area – has one of the most flavorful center – and taste best when warmed.
Artichokes are high in magnesium, and vitamins, and are thought to have other positive properties as well.
Artichoke hearts are a lovely addition to salads, and can be canned, roasted, powdered, dried and frozen – but are always best when warm.
I hope you enjoy some of these artichoke recipes.
It’s nice to think of favorite warm meals and salads with family, with the flavor of hearts and comforting expressions, shared around the table.
We’d like to share them with the village someday.
Thus far, we have identified the seeds, but have not understood fully the growing conditions.
Here’s a guide to help you get started with your hearts today:
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