Repost: Mealtime Traditions

Reposted from October 10, 2023

My family didn’t pass down many generations-old traditions, but the few I can think of are all
based around food. First, when I was growing up, it was always important to my family to eat
together. I ate breakfast in the kitchen with my dad before school daily, and dinner was enjoyed by the whole family around our dining room table every evening. Eating together is still important to me and is something I intend to continue once I have children of my own. I believe meals are meant to be paired with companionship.

The recipe that I feel best represents my Sicilian roots is one that my mom’s family passed
down – stuffed artichokes. It’s a time-consuming and decadent recipe not meant to be had often, but I always looked forward to making this recipe with my mom. You begin by snipping off the pointy ends of the leaves and cutting off the stem, then washing the artichoke. The next step was always my favorite – banging the artichokes upside down on the counter to help loosen the leaves and open up the artichokes. That part is cathartic and I remember that it made me feel strong.

The artichokes lay upside down to dry while the stuffing is mixed together – a combination of
bread crumbs, chopped artichoke stem and minced garlic, fresh Parmesan cheese, salt, and
pepper. Stuffing the leaves takes hand strength and patience, and I always admired how
beautiful the artichokes my mom stuffed were in comparison to mine – perfectly evenly stuffed
and full. I knew one day I could make them as beautiful as she does.

The artichokes are then nestled in a pot, drizzled with olive oil, and steamed; the smell that fills the house while they cook is glorious. When they’re done, it’s such a reward – food tastes better when you give it that much time and attention. Eating the stuffing from the leaves is delicious, of course, but the final cherished part of this process for me is reaching the artichoke heart. It’s divine, sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper, and it represents the end of a beautiful, hard-earned meal together.

-Jenn Yi

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1 Response to Repost: Mealtime Traditions

  1. Peggy A says:

    Your words made my mouth water and my nose smell the aroma of the artichokes. Beautiful writing!

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