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I watched an Anti-Aging Program on PBS last weekend. The author was a big crusader for juicing and high vegetable intake. His diet and lifestyle had not only reforested his balding head but had turned said hair back from gray to brown. I knew I had to learn more of his secrets.

I immediately went to the bookstore and plunked down $26.95 for his 452-page book. Now books on health are like the recipes I sometimes cut out of magazines – they look good on paper but I rarely bhave the time to make them or don’t have all the ingredients.

I quickly perused the book and read that the author was one of those people who doesn’t smoke or drink, exercises at least an hour a day, swallows about 300 vitamins and throws everything from the crisper drawer into the juicer. I must admit a chill settled into my bones as I read on.

I saw he discouraged, nay, condemned, white flour, sugar, chocolate and coffee – four of the basic food groups in my current health regimen. While there was much merit in what I read it would take a lot of time to implement this new lifestyle. Perhaps I could take some baby steps in the vegetable department and expand my horizons. To whit, I would buy some of the more exotic vegetables and fruits, the ones I don’t know how to open or what to do with them after I get them home.

I am embarrassed to admit how unsophisticated I am in these areas. I mean, an eggplant or kiwi is exotic to me and I am completely baffled by rutabagas. So this week, I instituted my new Vegetables from A to Z program. I started with an Artichoke. Not only was this vegetable puzzling – how do you cook something that looks like a hand grenade – but how do you know when it’s done? Does it tick or explode?

As I pondered over the produce the words Jerusalem Artichoke suddenly popped into my head. Hmmm. Was this green globe with the pokey ends a regular artichoke or was it Jewish? How could I tell the difference? If from Jerusalem, what would happen if a Gentile ate it? Might I have a shift of faith, an epiphany that would rock my Catholic upbringing? Would I develop a taste for kosher dills or lox and bagels? Or, even worse start watching old Jerry Lewis movies?

As these and other thoughts rushed through my mind, I must admit to a certain hesitation and my hand did tremble slightly over said plant. But never let it be said that Marie Taylor hesitated when faced with the unknown. I plunged in, plucked a plump one and scurried home with my booty to do some research.

As I clicked in to Google, I though “today, artichokes, next week Brussels Sprouts” – and then the whole Jewish question will be set aside for a Flemish conundrum.

(This post from my Archives @ 1998)

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