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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.