Would you believe I had never tasted sour cream until I was 21? Really. I was under the notion sour cream was just that, sour, cream. Why would anyone want to slather a nice baked potato with some disgusting blob of a sour emulsion? Yuck. But I was coerced by my other half into trying a tiny taste and a whole new world opened up. It’s an amazing product. I don’t want to know how it’s made, just that it is made. Kind of like finding out how squeaky cheese comes to be. It’s delicious, but the manufacturing of it is best left behind stainless steel doors.
Now, that being said, I was used to eating hominy and artichokes at home, in my before-married life. I don’t ever remember getting my first taste of either, so to me, both are just something on the plate at dinner time. Artichokes, if you don’t know, are these big ole green, grown-in-the-sand, prickly leafy looking things shaped kind of like a green three dimensional ace of spades. If you have seen the garden flower hens and chicks, an artichoke is like a hen on steroids that has grown about a foot tall and her girth has developed her into a tree instead of a ground hugger.
To prepare artichokes you boil them in water with a little olive oil and garlic salt until you can stick a knife in their bottoms (well that is quite a picture), then you eat them up scraping the meat off the leaves with your teeth until you get to the bottom or heart of the artichoke, which you have to free from this fuzzy looking stuff, then cut up the heart and gobble it down too. Yet another lovely picture, huh? I don’t like the heart of the artichoke. The flavor is too strong for me, which made my mother happy since she loved the hearts and would gladly take mine off my hands, uh plate.
Artichoke season is usually sometime around February/March and that’s when you can get the biggest and best chokes. I was married in April, so that following late winter when I saw the artichokes come into the stores, I didn’t think anything of it when I bought two for dinner. Yummy. I cut off the ends so they would sit flat on the plate, got my water concoction going, snipped off the spiky end of the leaves so no pricked fingers would occur and plopped them into the pot. After about 45 minutes I stabbed at their little bottoms, and they were done.
I learned to eat artichokes with just a little mayonnaise so you don’t smother the flavor of the choke. So a little bowl of mayo and an artichoke on a plate is all that’s served. I called my other half to dinner. On his way to the table he said the garlic in the house smelled great. With anticipation of some garlicy masterpiece and licking his lips, he sat down. I proudly produced my wonderful artichoke dinner and placed his in front of him. He got this look on his face. It was, well, more than confusion and less than the delight I expected. He just sat there, looking at this big green extra large tightly packed tree looking thingy on his plate next to a bowl of mayonnaise. How was I to know he had never even seen an artichoke let alone be served one for dinner? (By the way, one big difference he and I had to deal with was his family was a Miracle Whip family while mine was strictly Best Foods Mayonnaise — such another story)!
It was a double shocker moment. He didn’t know what to do or say and I didn’t understand why he wasn’t diving into the yumminess of the once, maybe twice, a year delicacy. We laugh about it now. Especially since he likes that I still don’t eat the hearts and he loves the hearts. But that first one, the one he poked at with his knife, the first leaf he pulled off the plant, dipping it lightly in the mayo and then drawing it across his teeth to get the meat off, it’s quite a memory. Probably the way I looked when I was finally talked into trying sour cream. But just like the sour cream, which I use on so many more things than just the lowly baked potato, he looks forward to artichoke season.
I should have stopped with the win from the artichokes. But, no. I next tried to serve hominy fried with a little bacon. Yet another yummy pre-married family favorites. Let’s just leave it at that, we don’t eat hominy in our house — ever. One out of two isn’t bad, right?
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Contact her about your day at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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