Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Artichokes

I got a letter this morning from, if I may use the term, the hostess with the most-ess.  It was an invitation to a dinner party (one I had to turn down) and it included a question about artichokes.  Not having too much experience with them (and regrettably unable to accept the invitation), I sat down to write this blog:

Artichokes are essentially thistles.  This(tle) is what's always fascinated me about them, or rather, what fascinates me about human beings and their culinary wiliness.  Perhaps this needs some explaining.  See, unlike the lettuces and the cabbages and, really, most of the other vegetables, and even the more defensive nuts, the artichoke plant doesn't hoist up the artichoke heart atop a stem, ready to cook, serve and eat.  It socks it away beneath a treacherous, multi-foliate sheath of armor.  One with spikes!  Looking at an artichoke from the outside, keeping in mind that the part of the plant we eat is the heart of the unopened flower, well, the little gem of the heart is buried under a lot of prickly labor.  I know that starving animals will go to great lengths to get some food, but I can't imagine that the "discovery" of the artichoke heart was the result of man's famished quest for sustenance.  Rather, I think it's our weird culinary bent that brought us here.  Anyway, enough rambling.  Here are some pictures.


Instead of doing the writing myself, I decided to photograph some of my books.  First, the textbook from the Culinary Institute of America (sixth edition) and second, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1.  


A recipe for artichoke souffle

or, one from Julia and Simone...

In any case, it seems that artichokes are often paired with cheeses or butter sauces. 

2 comments:

Dara said...

All the thistle talk reminded me of how much I was once in love with eating thistles......we'd pack a jar of olive oil and vinegar and a good sharp knife and hit the country lanes in the spring to hunt for thistles, you cut them to the ground, then peel away the first layers of the entire stalk (kind of the way one might strip celery) and that would be that, warm thistle dipped in oil & vinegar, delicious, spring........

alex starver said...

A good way to start off spring-time, is to get "totally jacked" from germs. The germs I met up with have no concept of new digital cameras; I'm sure of it. How would a germ know what a new digital camera is?? They are two completely different realms. How would a moth know either. I don't like things like that, that don't know about swell electronics (i.e., the reasons I live for)... but I guess there are a lot of other "forces" in the world, that's how it's always been. I was so sick I even had to cancel my doctor appointment! At any rate the restaurants in my neighborhood are super third rate: the stuff Jono cooks up might as well be God's seven course meal. LOL. I did make it to the grocery mart though and invested in some cheap hot dogs and white, floury buns. Recovery is on the horizon. The big city lingers like the smog in the air: the food of peasants, or lesser than -- none'so fresh.