"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 and their stems when harvested before the flowers come into bloom. The plants usually bear several flowers. Once the flower blooms, its bud changes to a coarse, barely edible form. The uncultivated or wild variety of the species is called a cardoon. It is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region."
Was it an act of faith? To see a prickly weed and to nurture it, cultivate it, coax it into aberrant proportions, and then to eat it? The promise of an artichoke is well hidden, guarded, but to those who know it, it is to be loved and cherished.
Artichokes are delicious and that is enough of a reason for me to eat them. Eating them is also fun, its like an edible present that you unwrap. It takes patience, but there is a big payoff in the end. Artichokes are also nutritious, but let that come second to the culinary pleasure of indulging in one.
And indulge you should. Don't be put off by the imposing exterior, the improbable puzzle of turning this vegetal "thing" into something good to eat. Preparing an artichoke is easy and well worth it.
4 large globe artichokes
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise (Order some of this stuff Wilderness Family Naturals Mayonnaise or make your own)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Black pepper, coarsely ground
1) Prepare the artichokes by first chopping off the tip with a sharp chefs knife. Then, remove the first row of leaves from the base near the stem. Finally, peel the green skin off the stem using a paring knife.
2) Next, fill a large pot with about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water. Salt the water with the sea salt and turn the burner on high. Once the water starts to boil, put a metal colander (strainer) into the pot.
3) Place the artichokes cut side down into the colander and cover with a lid. Don't worry if the seal isn't perfect.
4) Set your oven timer to 30 minutes. While the artichokes steam, combine the minced garlic and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Grind fresh black pepper over the top.
5) When the artichokes are done, they should be tender, with leaves pulling away easily. Remove them to a serving plate and allow to cool for several minutes before eating. Artichokes are best enjoyed by peeling off individual leaves, dipping the base in a small amount of garlic pepper mayonnaise, and then, using your teeth to, scrape the tender "meat" from the base of the leaf.
Once you have pulled away most of the leaves, you can grab the remaining bud and pull it away from the stem. The ends of the leaves can be eaten all at once and so can the stem, once you scrape away the bit of nettles clustered in the center.