The no-skill no-bullshit guide to: Artichokes

13 May

Italians fucking love artichokes. I’m not entirely sure why this is, but having been served it a few times and liking it, I decided to hop on the bandwagon when they were on special at Tigre. The last time I was with my friend Jo she had a few questions about this mystery veg, such as ‘So how do you cook it?’ and ‘Where’s the edible bit?’

After a bit of googling I found out that they’re very easy to cook, it’s the eating bit that’s difficult, but after some experimenting I am now the apartment expert on artichokes (as well as on everything else. Perks of living alone.) If you’ve never encountered an artichoke, they look like big green flowers and have the texture of a money tree:

This is an artichoke

This is an artichoke

The appearance generally leads to the question of: so how do I get into it? Patience my dear. First of, cut the stem down to the last inch or so. In my opinion the next bit is optional but I do it anyway. You see all the leaves have a spiky tip? Cut all of them off. Preparation done.

Ta-da!

Next, chuck it into some boiling water for 30-45 minutes depending on the size. Ideally it needs to be completely submerged although lots of people won’t have a saucepan this big so just do your best. You’ll know it’s done when you can pull off one of the base leaves easily.

Not a good example of a fully-submerged artichoke

Before

Nearly done. The water should go an unpleasant colour

After. The water should go an unpleasant colour

Chuck it on some kitchen paper upside down to drain, and prepare your dip. Yeh there may be no knife and fork involved, but it’s only an uphill struggle from here. You can dip it in whatever you choose, although some of the classic Italian choices include melted butter, or olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper.

Draining

Done

Starting from the bottom outer leaves, pull one off, dip it, then stick it in your mouth and using your teeth scrape off the fleshy veggie stuff from the non-rubbery side. Repeat until you get to the weird looking inner leaves that look kinda like rose petals. By this point the leaves will have super sharp spikes on the tips, so don’t do what I did and try and bite the whole thing off.

The side with the edible stuff

The side with the edible stuff. So appetising

This bit can be grabbed and pulled off in one chunk, leaving you with a weird hairy bit that looks sort of like troll doll hair called the ‘choke’. Don’t try and eat it. Grab a spoon and scrape it off, so all that’s left is the stem and the best bit, the heart. It’s hard to explain the taste but I guess it’s sort of meaty? Eat what’s left. Done.

The aftermath

The aftermath

Don't try to eat any of the hairy bit
Don’t try to eat any of the hairy bit

THE HEART. Looks quite assuming, tastes great

THE HEART. Looks quite unassuming, tastes great

So there we go, now you all (by which I mean Jo) know how to prepare and eat an artichoke. I hope you feel enlightened, knowledgeable, and hungry.

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4 Responses to “The no-skill no-bullshit guide to: Artichokes”

  1. Chicca May 15, 2013 at 03:44 #

    Ok… you know il carciofo is somethimg almost sacre in the italian cooking tradition. Ask a roman how to cook it .
    We may sound picky but…. sorry that is not something to treat lightly….

  2. Emilia May 21, 2013 at 21:36 #

    Love this! I was just talking to my host mother about what a pain in the neck artichokes are to prepare, but you seem to have done quite well. I bet you’ll be the artichoke-master in your house next year as well 🙂

    • louiseineurope May 21, 2013 at 21:53 #

      Thanks! I know there are fancier ways to do it, but since a lot of the time I can’t be bothered with putting a lot of preparation is, I tend to go for the simplest option 🙂 Now just to persuade my housemates next year that it’s worth putting in all the time and effort it takes to eat them…

  3. Giulia May 25, 2013 at 15:45 #

    Unfortunately I don’t like artichokes! They look a bit weird and not tasty at all. And when you cook them it’s really hard to decide what to cook and what to throw away. Nice to meet you, I’m Giulia 😀
    baci

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