The piece really does take you on that serendipitous discovery of the artichoke. It's this lovely insight into food culture at that moment, and it shows you a different view of Syria than a lot of people have right now, and I imagine then. Were there any other insights or moments from that trip that didn't make it in the article that seem interesting now, in hindsight?
I could spend days telling you stories. One example has to do with Syrian men and their relationship to food culture. What's really interesting in the Arab world, which is for the most part a paternalistic society, is how most men (of an older generation) do not cook, and do not go into the kitchen, but so many are experts on food. They might be able to tell you how it's made, how it should taste like, what needs to be tweaked and so forth, and they will speak expertly. Whereas an American husband of a similar generation would come home from work, and was really nothing more than a human garbage pail, who would shovel down the food without comment.