he is the artichoke king


John has headed out to the garden to dig up artichokes

of the Jerusalem kind.

they moved here about 20 years ago, probably from Cathy’s place down the road

and being the determined bulb that they are, have multiplied in all directions.

They are a knobbly root  with a whitish flesh and  a strong flavour

 definitely not a widely recognised vegetable, holding no prestige and are never found in the supermarket.

here they thrive and to be honest you couldn’t get rid of them if you tried .

we discovered that the wallabies like eating them so we planted a field of  them once as a decoy crop to keep them out of our vege garden.

it worked that year but what really happened was more wallabies and more artichokes.

we always knew we were sitting on an artichoke empire and John has been the lead over the years  in artichoke culinary explorations but then, he is the artichoke king.

There is  a new store in the village, a wholefood place set up by a bunch of locals, some of them our friends with a vision to sell organic and local as well as introduce healthy eating options into the community.

 they call themselves ‘Sweet Home Cobargo’ and have taken up residence in one of Bennys shops the one that used to be ‘No Wife No Horse No Moustache.’

that iconic sign, faded as it is,  has so far been left in place but on the inside all is changed.

the process of  setting up and moving in has taken many months with a lot of bureacratic hoops to jump thru .

jump they did and opened the frosted glass doors on the 3rd of July .

Cathy rang that morning  asking John if we had any produce to put in?

yep we have artichokes.

later in the day when I went in there they were nestled into a hessian bag $4.50 a kg. 

the walls are painted orange

mango? I said to Cathy as I was poking around.

pumpkin ,she said, Suzy called it  pumpkin.

we both shrugged and laughed.

the fire was tickling along .

beans and herbs and flour to buy off friends is a far cry from trading with  anonymous people.

 I reckon buying food is an act of intimacy and not just food, 

all exchange where I hand over money and receive goods is a very personal  thing is it not?

and one day I thought, I want to have a relationship with the people I buy from.

I want to know them, even just a little, to be able to pass  the time of day with them in way that leaves us both the richer for the meeting, that adds another dimension to what has become a souless business transaction.

and so that has become my practice, 

easy in a small village, easy at your markets but  challenging in the bigger supermarket mega store world.

Cathy rings again this morning,

she wants more artichokes, some to put in the curries they are cooking up for friday night takeaways.

friday the thirteenth is the official opening, a night when the community wearing smiles will gather to celebrate a vision manifest by a small group of people.

up the road next to the newagency Black Wattle gallery opened earlier in the year another small group vision  and goes from strength to strength.

contained within its sights is the opening up of all the empty shops in Cobargo and getting things happening, community things . they started with laneway markets and now Bec and Suzy are running art classes for children.

John washes the artichokes, packs them into a panier and heads off to deliver them with a list  cardamon, linden tea, quinoa, rolled oats,dates .

it is pretty exciting to have access to this food locally and  that for these purchases we have reduced our food miles by about 100 kms, not to be sneezed at eh.

we like to peel them when we eat them, a bit of a tedious  job but is said to reduce the gas factor.

mmmmm didn’t know about that?

it is said and we acknowledge this that they are windy little roots.

but as Bec says well, it  lets you know everything is working.

And we love them any which way really, boiled  steamed mashed ,

nice with a white sauce, makes a terrific  soup 

or toss them into a casserole.


yesterday I picked stinging  nettle and rubbed it into my thumb joint which has been sore

so just wondering if we are sitting on a stinging nettle empire.

anyone for whipping? 











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