I meant to go grocery shopping today but didn't. Had I done so, I planned on buying an artichoke.
I like artichokes.
I mean, who wouldn't want to eat a thorny thistle?
The first time I ever saw an artichoke I was in high school nervously eating dinner with my boyfriend, John, and his family. I'd never met John's parents before that dinner. John's father was a Gila County Supervisor and quite a political wheel so the meal would have been tense enough without the artichokes. Their arrival just about finished me off. I had no idea of how to approach the thing on my plate so I just waited to see what everyone else did. I caught on fairly quickly.
As life worked out, my relationship with John didn't last long but my love of artichokes has withstood the test of time.
Almost ninety percent of the artichokes in the country are grown right here in California. Well, not exactly right here in California. More specifically, almost ninety percent of the artichokes are grown right up there in Castroville in the heart of California's Central Coast farm country.
Each year the town hosts its Artichoke Festival. During the festival the town crowns its Artichoke Queen. In 1947 a young woman named Norma Jean wore that crown. She, of course, later called herself Marilyn Monroe and apparently didn't brag too much about that bit of artichoke royalty.
The town even has a statue of the largest artichoke. It's twenty feet tall and twelve feet across. If you don't believe me, just go to 11261 Merritt Street in Castroville and see for yourself.
I think one of the bravest people in history was the person who ate the first artichoke. That person must have also been one of the hungriest people in history because nothing about that plant invites consumption.
Anyway, should I get around to going to the grocery store tomorrow, I think I'll buy an artichoke if for no other reason than just to prove that I'm brave, too.