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How to Cook Artichokes – Very Informative

How to Cook Artichokes – Very Informative

The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) is a variety of a species of thistle cultivated as a food.

The edible portion of the plant consists of the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom. The budding artichoke flower-head is a cluster of many budding small flowers (an inflorescence) together with many bracts, on an edible base. Once the buds bloom the structure changes to a coarse, barely edible form. Another variety of the species is the cardoon. It is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region. Both wild forms and cultivated varieties (cultivars) exist.

The naturally occurring variant of the artichoke, the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), which is native to the Mediterranean area, has records of use as a food among the ancient Greeks and Romans. In North Africa, where they are still found in the wild state, the seeds of artichokes, probably cultivated, were found during the excavation of Roman-period Mons Claudianus in Egypt. Varieties of artichokes were cultivated in Sicily since the classical period of the ancient Greeks, the Greeks calling them kaktos. In that period the Greeks ate the leaves and flower heads, which cultivation had already improved from the wild form. The Romans called the vegetable carduus. Globe artichokes are known to have been cultivated at Naples around the middle of the 9th century.

Le Roy Ladurie, in his book Les Paysans de Languedoc, has documented the spread of artichoke cultivation in Italy and southern France in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, when the artichoke appears as a new arrival with a new name, which may be taken to indicate an arrival of an improved cultivated variety:

The blossom of the thistle, passed from Naples to Florence in 1466, carried by Filippo Strozzi. Towards 1480 it is noticed in Venice, as a curiosity. But very soon veers towards the northwest…Artichoke beds are mentioned in Avignon by the notaries from 1532 onward; from the principle towns they spread into the hinterlands … appearing as carchofas at Cavaillon in 1541, at Chateauneuf du Pape in 1553, at Orange in 1554. The local name remains carchofas, from the Italian carciofo … They are very small, the size of a hen’s egg … and are still considered a luxury, a vaguely aphrodisiac tidbit that one preserved in sugar syrup.

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One Response to “How to Cook Artichokes – Very Informative”

  1. My grandma came from Palermo, Sicily. She taught me to make to make stuffed artichokes. During the washing process she would gently open up petals then scoop out the fuzzy hair on top of heart. After she would mix Italian breadcrumbs, fresh garlic pieces, cheese, salt and pepper. Then she would stuff little bits of the mixture in each leaf, filling some in center as well. When finished stuffing the leaves she would Steam the whole thing. When finished she would let us pull each leaf off one by one… they were done. Delicious!!

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