Artichokes and other memories…

I was blessed with a childhood full of unique experiences. I was fortunate to be exposed to many unusual situations that were not typical for a child.

My grade four year found my Mom and I transferred to Toronto for work. It was a new adventure, a new school, totally new climate and a much bigger city.

Toronto found us hunting for a home, and a new space to set down roots. Mum was in the hotel industry, and while we hunted, the company put us up in one of their properties right downtown. We were steps from Yonge Street, and the giant spinning vinyl of Sam The Record Man.

I discovered a new school, set in such an urban environment that the play-yard was on the roof and classes were set in a three-story brick building. This was very urban living.

We ate most meals at the hotel. Every evening after work and school, we would come down to the main dining room, an opulent space overstuffed, plush and heavily draped. The kitchen packed my lunch for me daily: a bountiful selection of sandwiches, pastries, fruit and cheese: far too much for a 9-year old child. totally blessed.

I never had the palette of a child: part of my exposure to my Mom’s workplace meant the unusual and the uncommon.

A regular starter at dinner was steamed artichokes dipped in butter. We would begin our meals with these earthy beauties, steamed a deep green, accompanied by a heavenly swirl of clarified butter. We would slowly peel off layer by layer, revealing the tender hearts: saving the heart of the matter until last.

The children had never experienced steamed artichokes, and we experimented with them last night. I set out dishes of clarified butter, along with a balsamic vinegar aioli.

The younger one took a stab at peeling off the fibrous layers to get to the little nibble at each petal base, and flatly rounded at me with a quick but firm “No.”

The elder one tolk a stab at it, and discovered the unctuous plant-based umami of the inner layers. It became a conundrum. He couldn’t figure out if he liked or didn’t like it. But he kept going back for more.

The elusive artichoke had bested another generation…and won.

And, it was (of course) gluten-free.

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