The Best Artichokes Ever

On Sunday the most wonderful gift arrived via same day takkyubin delivery service. I knew that something very, very special was in store for me when the Styrofoam cooler chest made its appearance. And let me tell you, the contents most definitely did not disappoint.

After unfurling the tape that held top and bottom together, I lifted the lid and there, lying comfortably in their bubble wrap beds, were five, absolutely perfect artichokes. They have that majestic globe shape and their leaves are a lovely segue of green to purple — reminders of their membership in the thistle family. While the four on top were trimmed to travel size, the grand finale was on the bottom where its stalk could stretch the box’s full length. It seemed a shame to eat them! But eat them I did. I just steamed them, scraped off the tender flesh and savored their sublime flavor. No need for any flavor enhancers. The opposite experience from downing that worm-riddled artichoke I ate in Palo Alto (and still remember vividly) at the ripe age of 8.

These big bulbs come from the suburban Tokyo garden of dear, dear friends who have honest-to-goodness green thumbs. I am in awe of their ability to produce such divine treats. And I deeply appreciate having the chance to share any of their bounty.

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