In the 16th century, eating an artichoke was reserved only for men. Women were denied the pleasure because the artichoke was considered an aphrodisiac and was thought to enhance sexual power.
Thanks to author, Linda Stradley, and to the web site What’s Cooking America
Last night some friends invited me to a new restaurant, well, new to me. Once there they ordered some appetizers. I wasn’t paying much attention but was happily surprised when a platter of halved artichokes landed at our table.
Artichokes are nothing new where I come from, they grow in our gardens, we used them on pizza, main course, and even in drinks like Cynar.
But when I first arrived to the States, I didn’t see artichokes in the grocery stores, didn’t find them on menus and no one had heard of Cynar.
Like anything else, time changes everything and by the time I was divorced, artichokes could be easily found. I would purchase fresh artichokes to steam and eat hot or cold. Buy jars of artichoke hearts for my salads and my pizza, and even use them in my pasta primavera.
At some point I started to date, slowly, as I was a little old fashioned. Hey, I was married for a very long time. One of my first dates came to dinner, the only reason I remember serving a salad is because he later reminded me of it.
All went well for a while and with his birthday coming around I offered to cook him dinner, he could pick whatever he liked and I would cook it for him.
Just so you know, I’ve come a long way and these days, the date takes me out to dinner…but let’s get back to the story.
Apparently, my artichoke salad had left a lasting impression on the man and he said he would love anything with those ‘little green, flower like vegetables’. His words not mine.
And so I did. Bought some nice, firm artichokes and went about cooking them the way we did back home, cut off the spiky tips, remove and save the stems (best part of it), stuff with butter, parsley and garlic and steam for hours until they are fork tender.
It was with great pride and care that I presented my platter of artichokes to the birthday boy—who looked at me with eyes so big I expected them to fall off his face any minute, “What the hell is that?” He asked.
“Your favorite food, artichokes.” I cooed.
He hesitantly pocked the hard part with his finger, looked at me with disgust dripping from his eyes, “I’m not eating that.”
Turns out the only artichokes he ever tasted were the jar artichoke hearts. Therefore, the man had no idea what a fresh artichoke looked or tasted like. And after that day I decided I wasn’t going be the one to show him either.
But back to the halved artichokes at the new restaurant—fabulous. Can’t figure out how they are cooked. Baked? Braised? Grilled? I guess I’ll need to go back as often as possible until I get it sorted out. Stay tuned.