The Blooming Artichoke

Imagine a world without Internet. Last night comcast was down all over the Midwest, although, not having access to google or facebook, I had no way of knowing it. I sat desperately at my computer, periodically clicking the refresh button and staring into the flashing void before me. It was a scene like one might expect to find at the slot machines in Vegas, although in place of a coin cup my hand was suspending a giant coffee mug.  Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

I picked up my phone and stared at the little circle in the upper right hand corner. “It’s just thinking.” I told myself. Then I heard my fathers voice “be patient, it will work”. Minutes later, reality sunk in. I began to see the little “thinking” icon for what it was, a pretty circle enjoying its own game with no intention of producing anything.

I looked outside. The city resembled a Christmas village. It was covered in a soft blanket of snow, under which the buildings seemed to huddle close. Upon the still river canvas was a landscape portrait, painted with an impressionists eye. The glowing yellow lights were pulled into streaks, and the edges of the world reflected were softened, as though observed through tear filled eyes.

“What if the Internet went down everywhere in the world forever. What if we just, one day, lost the technology, the way masonry was lost for 500 years” Christina said.

“or milling flour?” I added. “I don’t know, I guess we would all just adjust” I said, though the thought made me uneasy.

I pushed away from my desk, and began searching for little things that needed to be done around the house. I began noticing how often the urge to do something requiring use of the Internet would enter my thoughts. So many questions remain unanswered without the Internet at my fingertips. There would be no streaming netflix, and without google I couldn’t look up why our DVD player wasn’t working. “I’m going to bed” I said, like a brooding teenager. As I shuffled in sweatpants and slippers into the bedroom, I was met by the towering bookshelf that lines our back wall.

Suddenly it dawned on me that books have a utilitarian purpose. It was as though they were now transformed from decorative testimonials of Christina’s and my taste, to little rectangular browsers into the minds of hundreds of different individual authors. I selected a book, tore the bed covers aside and snuggled in for an adventure, comforted by the notion that the technology of the world is decorative and impermanent, but beneath the Internet there is a foundation of storytelling which exists in infinite forms and cannot become extinct.

The Blooming Artichoke

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

prick holes in 2 medium eggplant with a fork and put them in the oven (directly on the rack) to roast for 1 hour (put a pan on the rack below to catch drips)

cut the top off of 1 large bulb of garlic, dress the bulb with olive oil and salt and stick in the oven (in a dish) for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees F

When the garlic has about 30 min left to cook, start steaming the artichokes. Cut the stem down, trim the prickly ends off of the leaves and carve out the inside choke (this step can also be done after the artichoke is cooked, it is easier to remove the choke this way, but if your hands are sensitive to heat it is better to clean the choke pre-cooking). Place 4-6 artichokes in pot containing about 1 cup water and a tsp lemon juice. Cover with a lid and boil until artichokes are tender (leaves peel off easily and a fork can be easily pierced into the heart).

To finish the eggplant dip, take the eggplants out and peel them. Mash them with a fork. In a frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Add 1/2 thinly sliced onion. When the onion has browned add the eggplant. Peel the garlic cloves and add them to the pan. Add 1/4 tsp cumin. Cover with a lid and cook together about 5 min on medium heat. Remove from the pan and add 2 Tbsp Greek yogurt and the juice from 1/2 lemon.

Blend together using a hand blender or food processor (or a fork).

Spoon the eggplant into the artichoke and fan the outer leaves out onto the plate. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts. Serve alone or with warm pita bread.

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