Photos & Story – Joseph Boyle
One morning recently, I gazed out our kitchen window into my wife’s herb garden. I spotted this large, strange looking plant. I knew it could not be marijuana, because my wife and I do not smoke weed.
When I got closer, I could not believe my eyes. The plant is an artichoke plant complete with a good size artichoke and some baby artichokes.
The origin of the artichoke is unknown. I always thought artichokes grew in some far distant foreign land and then somehow magically appeared in the Safeway Store produce section.
My reading confirms my thinking. It is thought that artichokes originated in North Africa and Southern Europe around the Mediterranean Sea.
Today’s modern producers are located in Italy, Spain and France.
California produces nearly 100% of the U.S. crop with 80% of our artichokes coming from “The Artichoke Center of World”, Castroville, California.
They even have an artichoke festival in Castroville. I can’t speak for you, but I know I will not miss the Artichoke Festival to be held on May 19 and 20, 2012.
Check out the festival at their web site located at http://www.artichoke-festival.
I discovered that some of my friends have never had an artichoke to eat. Emmmm, they are delicious and fun to eat.
If you have never had one, you may need some instructions on how to get the job done.
Eating an artichoke without proper instruction will, more likely than not, generate, at least, a minimum level of doom for you.
If you eat them properly, you are in for an epicurean delight.
Here is what I want you to know.
Artichokes need to be boiled, pressured cooked or steamed until tender. Get your hands on a recipe and you are ready to have some food fun.
Step 1. Pull one leaf off the artichoke. Dip the squared off bottom end of the leaf, that was attached to the bottom of the artichoke, into some mayonnaise, butter, hollandaise, vinegar, aioli, lemon juice or other sauce of your choice.
Step 2. Place the leaf inside your mouth; bite down gently and pull the leaf back out allowing your teeth to gently scrape the fleshy part off the leaf. Do not chew the leaf.
Step 3. Toss the processed leaf into a discard bowl or plate. Repeat the process a leaf at a time until most all of your leaves are off the artichoke and now piled up in the discard bowl.
Step 4. Pull all the remaining leaves off. Some of them can be dipped and eaten too. These last leaves you find are very thin. The last leaves can be scraped as a group of about 3 to 6 leaves at a time.
Step 5. You are now looking at some stringy soft thistle looking stuff. It has an artistic design look. Scrape that off with a knife and toss it into the discard bowl. Do not eat this stuff or you will never get to Step 6, which is the heart of the artichoke.
Step 6. Once you are down to the base, heart or meat of the artichoke, which is called “artichoke heart”, cut it up, dip it into your chosen sauce and “eat your heart out”. Scrumptious, for certain.
Well that is it.
I am going to include a couple of my photos to show you what got this entire story going in the first place.
The first photo is of the artichoke plant. I had never seen an artichoke plant before. At my age, anytime I see something new, it is an exciting day.
The second photo is the artichoke grown in our herb garden.