Stuffed Artichokes

Growing up, we lived in the same house as my paternal grandparents and my great aunt Adeline, who was my grandmother’s sister. The two of them, my grandma and aunt, were amazing cooks.

Holiday dinners featured a wonderful array of Sicilian specialties, and I have many happy, nostalgic memories of sitting around the big table for hours, eating, drinking wine, playing board games or cards, and laughing–just very, very happy memories.

The stuffed artichokes were not always present at these meals, because artichokes are very seasonal and temperamental, and they weren’t always available. When they were available, they were my favorite dish. I can still hear the whistle and the screech of the
pressure cooker, and that slight anxiety that the pressure valve might go flying off and hit the ceiling, as it occasionally did. I can still smell the wonderful aroma of the tender, savory leaves and the stuffing.

The artichokes were always so much fun to eat. I’d pull off each leaf and scrape it with my teeth, and then at the end, I’d have this big pile of spent leaves on my plate, with the prize in the middle: the soft, delicious heart of the artichoke. I really wish that I had paid more attention to how the artichokes were made. I wish I had practiced with my grandma and aunt. I miss the artichokes, and I’m glad and grateful to have found a couple of Italian markets that sell them, prepared, around Easter time.

But now, after having a reason to reconstruct this recipe with the help of several of my family members, of course, it was never written down at the time. Grandma and Adeline were cooks who just made it by heart. They never wrote anything down. But now that we’ve reconstructed it, I feel inspired to try making it myself.