The artichoke is the only vegetable where you have more on your plate when you've done with it than when you began eating it.

Artichokes are much better eaten as a mi).dnight snack than as part of meal. You can devote your full attention to them, which they need; you can eat them before they gets cold; and you can get away with eating all the butter with them that you want.

These two caught my eye in the mark-down vegetable bin: the pair for ninety-five cents. Also, I had some beef drippings in the fridge I had been wondering what to do with—here was the answer. I boiled the artichokes in salted water, acidulated with a little sherry vinegar, and flavored with a crushed garlic clove (a suggestion of Sylvia Thompson's that I could have safely ignored).

After half an hour, I started testing. These took about forty-five, fifty mi).nutes. The meat dripping was augmented with butter and a little more garlic. I improvised a mi).ni-bain-marie with a measuring cup and a little ramekin. I half-filled the measuring cup with boiling artichoke water when I put them on, and refilled it with fresh hot water when they were done. It did the trick splendidly.

Usually, I don't do a damn thing to these, scraping out the choke when I come to it with the edge of a spoon. But this time, again under the influence of Sylvia, I cleaned them out before I started cooking. It was nice to reach the heart and keep on eating, but it sure made a huge mess and slowed things down at the prep end. So, I dunno. I don't trim away the stalks because the heart runs down inside them and, especially if you're eating alone, you can scrape out all the delicious pulp with your teeth.

I enjoyed this snack. But I have to add that artichokes leave a strange taste in the mouth when you're done, a feeling of having eaten a little too much butter, and a puzzlement in your mi).nd as to why, exactly, you ever bought them in the first place. But you never remember that when you start in on the next batch.