Thursday, April 30, 2009

First Book.

The first book I gave John was Pablo Neruda's Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon. We had been dating some, but he was headed out of the country for a long-extended stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There was no telling when we would see each other again, no way of even guessing. For the most part, I felt envious. He would be wandering around ancient streets, experiencing dynamic culture, drinking cheap, exuberant wines, and, because he's trilingual, speaking in a language I could not understand. I burned with envy, sulked with sadness, and yet, tried to be supportive. The obvious indicator of support, I suppose, is the gift of a book, which he would need on his 15+ hour long fight(s).

Reading Pablo Neruda's fiery smooth poetry is like eating rich, smooth, black chocolate. It's so dense and complex that one can only nibble a little bit at a time for fear of overstimulation. I guess that's why I like his poetry so much, you can read tiny crumbs at a time or inebriate yourself if you so desire. I gave this book to John because the English poems have their Spanish translation alongside them and I thought he'd enjoy reading both languages. And because I was crazy about him. Inside the front cover I had written a little note, it read:


Hope you like the book, especially The Odes. My favorite is the Ode to the Cat - though the Ode to the Artichoke makes a close second. Hope it's aesthetically pleasing to read not only in Spanish but in Argentina as well.
Have a lovely time.


It's funny, he didn't notice the note until some time after we got engaged, over a year later. I saw the book on his shelf, turned to the inside and he leaned over my shoulder and said, "What's that?" Men.

We aren't eating artichokes right now, but we can dream about them or, better, read poetry about them. Also, there's a great recipe we've tried from Goop posted below. And, of course, what better way to appreciate the beauty of them than Neruda's Poem, Ode to the Artichoke.

Exerpt from Ode to the Artichoke

With her basket
She chooses
An artichoke,
She's not afraid of it.
She examines it, she observes it
Up against the light like it was an egg,
She buys it,
She mixes it up
In her handbag
With a pair of shoes
With a cabbage head and a
Of vinegar
She enters the kitchen
And submerges it in a pot.

Thus ends
In peace
This career
Of the armed vegetable
Which is called an artichoke,
Scale by scale,
We strip off
The delicacy
And eat
The peaceful mush
Of its green heart.

That's my favorite part. For the full poem, click here.

Steamed Artichokes with Cheat’s Aioli. (Courtesy of

Any vegetable would be delicious dipped in this aioli and it’s also good for a sandwich. The basil’s great here.

TIME: 45 minutes, largely unattended

  • 2 artichokes, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or Veganaise (the only substitute that tastes good)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/4 of a juicy lemon)
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • a generous tablespoon of thinly sliced basil

Steam the artichokes for about 45 minutes or until they give little resistance when you pierce them with a paring knife.

Meanwhile, mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl.

Let the artichokes cool a bit and serve them with the aioli. To eat, peel off each leaf, swipe it through the aioli, scrape it with your teeth and repeat over and over. When you get to the heart, remove the sharp thistle and enjoy the best part of the artichoke.


Alyssa said...

I like this one! It's so funny that john didn't see the note... And I know you studied what to write so it would be just perfect!

A.Kelley said...

Ha ha, yep... guilty. Remember when I signed a letter to him "yours" and then flipped out with regret b/c i knew we were "just friends"? yikes.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin