Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Something New

This is Kristina Gill. She is a cookbook author, and a food and travel photographer, she lives in Italy, and for the last month I have been riveted by her Instagram stories! She posts good stuff. I'm talking about potatoes, pasta, desserts, platters of food that make you want to get on a plane and go! It's a bit of a torture, but I keep coming back for more. I've taken to thinking of her posts as my bedtime story, and I settle in for the recipes, inspiration, the cute dogs, the mindful activism, the french fries. She tucks me in, and puts nice thoughts in my head, with all of her sharing.

When I learned Kristina Gill was doing an Instagram Live interview, with Black Food Folks, I had to tune in, and get to know her better. And somewhere in the middle of her talking with Clay Williams, she said something about artichokes, something about doing things in new ways, "In the United States people are always breaking off leaves and scraping them with their teeth." I felt seen: I was in middle school when I tasted my first artichoke, and since then I've only ever steamed them, then gnawed on every leaf. I commented, I have artichokes, please, what should I do with them that's "different?" And Kristina Gill replied! She DM'd me with a recipe, and encouragement! And how nice is that? It's as nice as Kristina Gill, that's how nice. She shares, generously promoting fellow cooks and photographers, engaging with them effusively, kindly. I like her easy manners, what, and how, she shares posts on Instagram, her modesty, even her smile... it's all disarming, warm. I saw that on IG, and watching the interview, it was a pleasure to see more of this gracious woman.

Though I did not have all of the ingredients on hand, and I soon discovered my artichokes were not super fresh, I decided to do what I could to try something new with artichokes. I began with soaking them in cold water with lemon juice, which I think helped to freshen them up a bit. Now, if you want the recipe, you should buy her book, Tasting Rome. And I will add... please try to buy it from an independent, Black owned book seller, and please please read about what a raw deal Black, Indigenous, and People of Color get in the food, and publishing world.

Peeling leaves from the stem and base, then revealing the dent... all new to me! And the dent is the spot to slice off the leaves, and expose the choke in the middle. I scooped all of that out, then quartered the heart.

I did have garden mint, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil, and I added those to the quartered hearts in a hot pan, with a squeeze of lemon juice. Sadly, I did not have Pecorino Romano nor a crusty loaf of fresh baked bread. But the artichokes started steaming and bubbling under the lid, and smelling amazing. I texted her again, about not having good bread on hand, confessing I would probably serve the dish with crackers, and she totally put me at ease, again, replying "Trader Joe's ritz knockoffs ARE GOOD." Yeah, I like this woman. And I really like this new way of preparing artichokes.

My cookbook arrived. I am looking forward to making more new somethings.

Mr Williams, don't hesitate, don't be intimidated! Kristina Gill can walk you through cooking a worthwhile artichoke dish!

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