Warning: Spoilers everywhere!
Ser Jorah, owner of a lonely heart? YES.
Season 4, Episode 8: The Mountain and The Viper
Ser Jorah just can't quit Daenerys of House Targaryen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Mother of Dragons, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains. We watch him return again and again, back to Dany's side until she has no choice but to accept him back into her service. Devoted and doomed to unrequited love, in perpetuity. What does perpetuity mean? For fucking ever, that's what it means. Greyscale can't stop him, a parade of young lovers can't stop him, not even white walkers can keep Jorah from his Queen. He stands by her, watching her love other, lesser, men from deep inside the friend zone, none (okay, maybe one) equal to his singular devotion. This week, we honor the pure heart of Ser Jorah Mormont with our own recipe for hearts deliciously scorched and split in two: Grilled Artichokes with Garlic and Lemon.
Love and heartbreak have always been the story of the lonely artichoke. Greek myth evokes the story of a beautiful woman named Cynara, so beautiful she catches the eye of Zeus. Zeus immediately falls in love and decides to transform her into a goddess, stealing her away to Mount Olympus. After some time, missing her family, Cynara sneaks back to earth for a visit. This of course infuriates Zeus who, being the original god of toxic masculinity, exacts his punishment by turning her into the first artichoke - ugly, unapproachable, forever hiding a lonely, tender heart.
Artichokes are related to the thistle plant, thorny and untouchable. Who could imagine those tough outer petals so tightly wound could protect so small and delicate a treat? Artichokes are traditionally eaten with an aioli or remoulade sauce, petals becoming a vehicle for mouthfuls of creamy goodness. But I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to these grilled babies - I want to taste that smoky char and garlicked oil, and a generous sprinkle of salt and lemon are all I need to tickle my taste buds. But if a good aioli or garlicky mayo is your thing, have at it. It's impossible to not get your hands dirty with these artichokes - tear into them with your fingers, rip off those petals before scraping it against your teeth to get at the tiny bit of tenderness at the base of each petal. It's pure vegetarian brutality. A violent delight.
It's no small task to get to that small bit of heart - a sad return for a considerable amount of work. You may ask, is it worth it? When fresh artichokes are in season, steamed until tender and thrown on a screaming hot grill, fingers tearing into that heart shaped bulb, mouth sucking and scraping each petal until you are spent with work and covered in mess, when the heart is exposed and then consumed in one final, slow, small mouthful...it yields its own kind of satisfaction. Jorah knows. Not the same as a love won in the end, or love returned, but...almost. Maybe. Perhaps just close enough. Enjoy.
Grilled Artichokes with Garlic and Lemon
I prefer to steam artichokes rather than boil, as I feel it preserves the flavor and texture a bit more and keeps it from getting waterlogged and soggy. I also found it easier to cut out the choke after steaming, when the base is softer and the choke easier to scoop out.