Eastside Road, May 6, 2011—DIFFERENCES OF SCALE apart — and in every discussion, differences of scale are decisive — artichokes are like grandchildren: you wait and wait for the first one; then after a decent interval the second arrives; before long they're abundant. So you linger and fawn over the first; you attend devotedly to the next (few); you accept the rest like the debt you're somehow owed.
(Don't pay too much attention to this, you youngest ones.)
Tonight we had the second of this year's crop. The first, three days ago, was a Globe artichoke. I like them, I guess, but they're not my favorite, and I'm a bit chagrined that three of the four plants I set out a couple of years ago are Globes. I prefer the one we had tonight, a Violet, with sharp thorns at the tips of the outer leaves, which had just begun to spread yesterday. It seems to me the Violet has more flavor. I'd prefer to pick them smaller, but at the beginning of the harvest you take them one by one, and one small one doesn't a supper make.
Lindsey cooked it just as she had the other: split it in half, since after all there are two of us, covered it in a stainless-steel pan with salted water, and simmered it until done, say 45 minutes.
With it, one of Curt's saucisses blancs, beautifully made, kept long but without compromise in our freezer, liberated for the event. Sausage and artichoke make a first-rate combination, I think; a candidate for the Elective Affinities list. And, on the side, more chard from the garden — white, red, and yellow, from plants that miraculously wintered over, with no assist from the gardener. And a fourth chard, a new one to me when I found it last year, an Italian variety with bigger, floppier leaves. All these chards seem to have gained in sweetness from the winter: L. says that's what they do, and I'll take her word for it, her word and the evidence on my plate. Afterward, green salad.
Malbec, La Finca (Argentina), 2010