New York and New Jersey farmers are seem to be geniuses when it comes to growing foods that one doesn’t associate with the northern half of the East Coast. One of those foods is artichokes. Native to the Mediterranean region and climate, most artichokes grown in the United States come from California. The East Coast variety are much smaller than those grown on the West Coast, but they’re every bit as delicious. In fact, because their chokes — the fuzzy, inedible part at the top of the heart — is underdeveloped, they’re far easier to clean and eat than their western cousins . . . proving once again, perhaps, that size doesn’t matter.
As a food systems consultant, it’s not surprising that I have a lot of books about food on my shelves. Many are about food politics, some are about agricultural practices and science, and some are about advertising and marketing practices. One of my favorites, though, is Barbara Kingsolver’s book about a year of raising almost all of the food that she and her family ate. The book is called, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and one of my favorite chapters is entitled, “Waiting for Asparagus.” Like Ms. Kingsolver’s family, my own can barely stand the anticipation while awaiting the arrival of one of our favorite vegetables of the year. Roasted and tossed with lemon juice, sautéed in olive oil and added to salads, or steamed and added to omelets, asparagus makes an almost daily appearance on our plates during its short but delicious season. And when the season comes to an end, we inevitably think of new ways to serve it, and start looking forward to next year.