The Joy of the Afternoon Artichoke

Food Features Snacks
The Joy of the Afternoon Artichoke

There is a time during the day, usually around 2 or 3 o’clock, when I find myself in a haze. The caffeine from the beginning of the day has now fully worn off, and for some reason, the afternoon coffee just doesn’t hit as hard. I sit at my desk, dreaming of napping but resisting (most of the time, at least). It feels like it’s been a year since lunch, and it seems like dinner is a decade away. I’m not necessarily hungry, but I do need a hit of dopamine stronger than what my sad, lukewarm espresso can provide.

Of course, the mid-afternoon snack is nothing new; many of us indulge in an afternoon snack on the daily. But recently, I’ve found an afternoon snack that has changed my outlook on the mini meal… and, not to be dramatic, but also on life. It’s my duty to share this revelation with you so you too can enjoy the joy of the afternoon artichoke.

A Boiled Artichoke with Garlic Butter Is the Pinnacle of Luxury

Last week, I made an artichoke for a snack for the first time. I boiled some water and placed the artichoke in the shallow pool, covered it and let it steam for about 20 minutes. While it was cooking, I melted some butter and mixed it with grated garlic, some salt and a pinch of freshly crushed black pepper. By the time the artichoke was cooked and cooling, I knew I was in for a serious treat.

I pulled the artichoke apart, petal by petal, enjoying the green, fresh taste as I scraped the velvety meat off of each individual section. Dipping the artichoke petals in the butter wasn’t completely necessary, but that fat and flavor transformed an already-delicious artichoke into something memorable, special, even though it took so little work to prepare.

I found myself surprised at what a simple luxury I had stumbled upon, perhaps unremarkable to most but deeply pleasurable to me, the perfect way to break up my afternoon and find a small respite from the day’s duties. And now, I’m making it my job to preach the gospel of the mid-afternoon artichoke.

Why an Artichoke Is the Ideal Afternoon Snack

Why am I so enthusiastic about this snack? I think I like the way that it feels so intentional. Although cooking an artichoke isn’t necessarily a difficult task, it does require you to step away from your computer for a few moments, demanding that you redirect your attention from work to your sustenance for a few precious minutes. And it’s not just cooking the artichoke that takes some time—actually sitting down to eat the artichoke, one petal at a time, is a slow, luxurious act, one that feels more gratifying than grabbing a forgotten protein bar from the back of the pantry.

Perfect at Home but Possible on the Go

Of course, it’s a huge luxury to have the time, energy and resources to be able to engage in any luxuries, including one so seemingly insignificant. Working from home makes it simple to pop an artichoke in a pot to steam it between calls. But even if you have to go into the office (or whatever your workplace looks like), it’s possible to enjoy a mid-afternoon artichoke. Yes, you’ll have to cook it ahead of time, and you may have to enjoy it cold, but pulling the flesh from the petal will be just as satisfying when you find time to step away from work and indulge.

Embracing Life’s Small Luxuries

Many of us are strapped for time and cash, which can make luxury seem inaccessible. But even the smallest things, even an artichoke eaten as a snack, can fill life with surprising pockets of joy. Beyond sustenance, that’s what food is for.

Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.

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