Artichokes (Cynara cardunculus) are perennial thistles and members of the sunflower family. The Globe artichoke is not to be confused with the Jerusalem artichoke which is a knobbly tuber, and the Chinese artichoke, which is a perennial herb of the mint family, grown for its edible tuberous underground stems.
The Globe artichoke is a plant native to the Mediterranean area and has many nutritional benefits such as fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, calcium, iron, and potassium. The leaf, stem, and root are also used to make extracts, which are used as medicine – reducing nausea and vomiting, spasms and gas. It is also used for indigestion, lowering cholesterol, high blood pressure, hepatitis C and IBS…. although that all depends on credible scientific evidence!
So, whilst artichokes can be quite demanding (as you will see) the rewards for my diligence have been positive so far, even though I do have a tendency to ‘go off piste’ when it comes to guidance on planting-out distances and suchlike:
Each head should be removed using secateurs, leaving a few inches of stem attached for the best possible flavour. Globe artichokes are best cut one hour before cooking.
The artichoke is actually the bud of a thistle—a flower. The leaves (called "bracts") cover a fuzzy centre called the "choke", which sits on top of a meaty core, called the "heart". The heart is completely edible and the “best bit”. The fuzzy choke is too fibrous to eat in regular artichokes, but edible in baby artichokes. All but the innermost leaves are tough and can be fiddly to eat – scraping them with your teeth to eat the tender parts.
I have only eaten fresh artichokes on a few occasions, and usually buy them when feeling a bit flush and doing some “lifestyle shopping” at the deli! Therefore, I have had to look up ‘how to cook artichokes’ on various websites and will have to report back when I have successfully applied my new skills and knowledge….?*!
"Artichoke: That vegetable of which one has more at the finish than at the start of dinner." Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield 1694—1773) was a British statesman, diplomat, man of letters, and an acclaimed wit of his time.
Weird and Wonderful
I also like to people-watch as many of the die-hard fans are now in their sixties and still sporting the black t-shirts (stretched over beer-bellies now) and dodgy haircuts. No doubt people will say the same about me (although my belly is just belly and nothing to do with beer!) when I rock-up at the Duran Duran concert in Hyde Park in July!
And, last weekend, we were enjoying a short break in Bonn! This trip had been postponed three times and originally it was to coincide with tickets to another concert - but this time for Kraftwerk. As it is, as soon as we re-booked flights the concert was moved again to August 2022 but we were bored of having to keep changing travel details and also keen to get away and see our friends. So, we enjoyed a fabulous weekend - catching-up on the events of the past two years, accompanied by a great deal of wine, beer and good food. And ice-cream.... vanilla ice-cream piped onto the dish to look like spaghetti , topped with strawberry coulis for the tomato-sauce and sprinkled with coconut to represent parmesan cheese. It was very indulgent and enjoyed by all!