When I was a college undergraduate, I used to pick up a few dollars by serving dinner at the home of a professor of international affairs. Since this professor was an activist as well as an academician, I was never surprised to find myself waiting on visiting heads of state. But I was often surprised--horrified--by what I was expected to serve to them. Plain boiled ham and instant rice seasoned with "flavor packets," for example.
Nothing beat the night in February when the hostess had me set out 22 freshly steamed artichokes for a formal, sit-down dinner. Thirty minutes later, I cleared away 22 not-so-freshly steamed artichokes, intact. No one was up to scraping the scaly leaves with their teeth, at least not in front of a prince and an ambassador.
Here's a more elegant way to serve artichokes. You'll need the largest you can find.
1 small white onion, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and finely chopped
Dash white pepper
4 cooked fresh artichoke bottoms