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Amy Eddings’ Food for Thought: Getting Over My Fear of Artichokes

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Artichokes. Artichokes. (mlee/flickr)

Artichokes are an Italian kitchen staple and a spring treat, but they scare me half to death. They look forbidding, have sharp little spines on their leaves, and seem to yield very little for all the work that I thought went into preparing them. A tiny (admittedly, yummy) little heart, and lots and lots of tough leaves with a little dollop of flesh at the end that you eat by scraping against your teeth. Really? Are artichokes worth it?

But New York Times food writer Melissa Clark convinced me to give them a try. (You’ll note in this video that she suggests the large, globe artichoke appears to be best suited as a cudgel. See? I told you they were forbidding.)

I bought some baby artichokes at my local Associated Supermarket and followed her suggestions, boiling them in water flavored with garlic and allowing them to sit in a bath of more garlic and olive oil.

They were delicious. 

This just proves the truth of one of my favorite sayings, whose author I can’t remember right now: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance –- that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

Now, on to tackle that deadly-looking globe artichoke and find the pleasure of steamed artichoke leaves dipped in butter. I’ll learn to like –- and I'll learn to like to prepare -– this veggie yet.

I’ll be talking to Melissa this Thursday for an upcoming edition of Last Chance Foods. Got a question or comment for her? Are artichokes a regular part of your repertoire? How did YOU learn to make them? What’s the best thing you’ve made from artichokes? (I had heavenly ravioli stuffed with artichoke cream in Rome when my husband and I were there a few weeks ago.) Post your thoughts in a comment below.

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Comments [3]

Tamara from Wellington, florida

It is my go to veggie that is quite meaty and savory. Just tonight made two types: one stuffed with breadcrumbs, garlic, dill, and olive oil based and the other with a red vinegar Dijon mustard with hint of salt, black pepper and sugar. Even if you overcook slightly, really can't mess up. The more tender the better. Nothing to be scared of, keep in oven for 1 hour at 400 degrees in base of water coverd for 50 mins and whalla, a fun yet not quite 1st date meal.

Jun. 15 2011 09:37 PM
Shelly Payson from Shelton, CT

Hi Amy,
My grandfather was in the produce business and we always knew it was spring when the first artichoke appeared on the dinner table. There would always be just one. My sister and I would compete for the last pieces of the heart, dripping with salted butter.
As a parent, I provided every diner in the family with an individual globe. For many years, we celebrated "Artichoke Festival".
I try to eat seasonally, and locally when possible, and still smile, remember my grandfather, and think "Spring" when I see the first artichokes of the year.

Jun. 15 2011 07:36 PM
Meredith Phillips (Schuerman) from Brooklyn, NY

Hi Amy,

You have perfectly crystallized my own attitudes and fears on the subject of artichokes. I am an avid cooker of interesting things -- octopus, anchovies -- but I for some reason I have always drawn the line at artichokes. I wanted to let you know that they have a crazily good artichoke cream at Fairway. I use it most frequently on cod. This describes the recipe I developed around it. It's a favorite with one of your newsroom colleagues. (Scroll to the bottom for the actual recipe.)

http://churchchomp.com/2010/04/08/cod-night-and-the-dictatorial-baby/

Jun. 15 2011 04:52 PM

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