This is my grandmother, Dora Barbaresi, posing on her wedding day with her mother-in-law, Margarite Donarumo. I like the contrast between the New World and Old World in this picture, and the way Nonni has scooped up her veil so casually.
Dora remembers how different the Italian cooking was between her northern Italian family and that of her Neapolitan husband. She especially remembers the fried artichokes. Margarite used baby artichokes. Old, dried out ones were fine because you would only keep the hearts and throw away everything else (whereas, stuffed artichokes demand very fresh, large artichokes since eating the edible parts of the leaves is half the fun). Though the recipe for fried artichoke hearts wasn’t written down, Dora watched Margarite make them many times. This is how she remembers it.
Fried Artichoke Hearts
Prepare to eat all of these right away. Restraint is utterly foolish.
8 baby artichokes, 4 regular artichokes, or a bag of frozen (or canned) artichoke hearts (not marinated)
½ cup flour
Salt, to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
Frozen or canned artichoke hearts are ready to use as is (you know, after defrosting or de-canning/draining them), so skip to the last paragraph.
To clean and trim fresh artichokes, snap off the dark, tough outer leaves at the base and trim the stem. Cut artichoke in half and scrape out the fuzzy choke with a spoon, leaving just the heart and the tender inner leaves. (Sam of Becks & Posh has a lovely pictorial guide that shows how to get to the heart of an artichoke). Cut in half again so the baby artichoke heart is now in quarters (cut larger artichoke hearts into eighths). Place the wedges into a bowl of water with the juice of one lemon.
In a deep pot, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat oil to 375°F. Beat egg in a small bowl. Mix flour and salt in another bowl. Drain, rinse, and pat dry artichokes. Dredge them in beaten egg and then flour. Fry the artichokes, several at a time, and remove when golden brown. Let drain on paper towels and season with salt. Serve immediately. And, now they're gone.
Margarite [Avallone] Donarumo
Naples, Italy - New Haven, Connecticut
1877 - 1956
Next Recipe: Clam Sauce
(Previous Recipe: Zeppole)