I love artichokes. I came to them relatively late in my eating life, when I was in college and dining at the table of my friend Nick’s parents. His mother served us each a steamed artichoke...and I stared at mine for awhile before confessing I not only didn’t know how to eat it, but that I had no idea what it even was. A lesson followed -- peeling, scraping, scooping, eating -- and I haven’t turned back since. My friend Linda makes a great artichoke stuffed with ground beef and Italian seasonings. Nick has since taught me how to prepare a savory dish of baby artichokes and peas in olive oil (which I sometimes serve over pasta with sliced sausages.) And many years ago, I used to enjoy the bitter, artichoke-based Italian aperitif, Cynar. My most memorable experience with this edible bud of a flowering thistle was when I ordered the Roman specialty carciofi alla giudea (trimmed, pressed flat and deep fried so that they resemble sunflowers) on my first trip to the Eternal Città. And my most recent, this artful and tasty appetizer of “fried artichokes with Niçoise olives, onion, sweet pepper and spicy aioli,” $8.75 at the excellent Gaslight, one of my favorite restaurants in Boston.