When it comes to vegetables, Iceland simply seems unable to get its act together.
Don’t get me wrong, Icelanders really do their best. You can easily find delicious strawberries and three different types of avocados at the supermarket, alongside the occasional nectarine shipped from Spain. Roots, however, are inevitably in the majority. Beetroot, potato, sweet potato, celeriac, parsnip, rutabaga… they fill the shelves of every grocery store, next to the greenhouse-grown tomatoes, cucumbers and mushrooms. Yet, in spite of all the effort, I find it impossible to locate a store, chain or farmers’ market that sells artichokes.
Artichokes are a massive source of iron, which for an anaemic weakling like me is pretty much like having a third lung. They conjure up memories of my grandparents’ house, too—of me straining my eyes reading in the middle of a blackout. As thunder shakes me, the comforting scent of artichoke and pea cacciatore reaches my nostrils and it’s instantly quiet during the tempest.
It’s summer, and I’m peeling the bright purple hair off the core of the artichokes on the floor of the balcony, while my mother cleans them of their spiky leaves. They come off with a big crack. Soon they’ll be squished together in oil-filled jars.
Remembrances aside, if I managed to eat fresh artichokes for once, instead of having my mother ship them from Italy in vacuum-sealed bags, it would be a great accomplishment. What do you say, Iceland? Next Christmas present?