When I was a child, artichokes were reserved for holiday meals. This was mainly due to their high cost, but also to their limited availability. In our family of six, artichokes were a rare but adored treat, generally served only on Easter Sunday. Things have changed, and today artichokes are available several times a year, with the biggest (and best) crops harvested in late March and April. These are cultivated mostly in California, Italy, Spain, and France, although more and more home gardens are including artichokes, particularly throughout parts of the country that benefit from a longer growing season.