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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Artichoke


Yep...this artichoke is big, and it's all for me.

Having just driven through Castroville (between Monterey & Santa Cruz), which produces a whopping 80% of commercially grown artichoke, and seeing all those fabulous, healthy looking artichoke plants, I have to admit I have artichokes on the brain.

And then, I pick up the May 2007 issue of Body & Soul magazine and am treated to this lovely little article, Power Foods:Artichokes, by Jane Black. Turns out, artichokes are a nutritional powerhouse, high in fiber, iron, magnesium, Vitamin C, and Folate. But, Black draws our attention to the fact that artichokes contain both silymarin (yes, we here in Marin are a silly bunch) and cynarin, both of which promote liver health. And, Black's article explained why I saw weird signs in Castroville of Marilyn Monroe with artichokes...she was crowned the first Artichoke Queen in 1948 (and, you know, they say artichokes are aphrodisiacs).

So before I switch into my St. George's Day celebration of English Food (it's a Becks & Posh blogger event, darling, that I strongly encourage you to particpate in), let me sing the praises of the California artichoke. While the Spanish brought the artichoke to California in the 1600's, they were not "widely grown until the 1920's, when Andrew Molera of the Salinas Valley was willing to try out the "new" vegetable" (source: Gourmet Sleuth.com).

Back in my younger days, I went through a serious artichoke phase, in which I ate 1-2 artichokes for dinner every night for months. They were simply steamed and each petal was dipped in melted butter (with added salt!), which is how I'll be enjoying this monster. There's really nothing quite like eating an artichoke. It's a wonderful slow food experience. People have their preferences, but I say: forget the lemon, the breadcrumbs, the mayo! Melted butter with extra salt is the way to go!

I've cooked recipes with artichokes, but, honestly, they all seem like a waste. If you're going to enjoy this thistle before it blooms into a lovely purple flower, I say, enjoy it alone, as it is.

7 Comments:

Blogger Lydia said...

Hooray for the steamed artichoke! I remember approaching my first artichoke with hesitation -- really, was I supposed to scrape the leaves between my teeth? -- but they are at their most delicious served just this way.

3:54 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I love steamed artichokes! I remember sitting around the table as a kid and seeing the piles of scraped leaves get higher and higher on all our plates. I, myself, have not yet mastered the art of making these - blotching them every time. I am going to keep trying though! Yours looks fantastic.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Tofu Mom said...

How funny. I open this blog to see artichokes... I have several in the steamer for my daughter and I as we speak...er...write...

My 7-year-old could eat two or three whole ones of these babies if I let her... no butter or dippin' sauce needed. She counts down the days until artichokes are available in the stores here - I told her they have lots of silymarin in them - she was immensely amused!

6:57 PM  
Blogger bazu said...

Gorgeous, just gorgeous! I used to love driving through "the artichoke capitol of the world" on my way to Santa Cruz. I'm inspired to go and look for these babies.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

man - everyone is into artichokes lately. i feel like making them once wasn't enough.

i need to do some experimenting with them anyways...

great photo btw.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Derek said...

I think my wife would have them every night if we could.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Bron said...

Would you believe I've never had one!
They simply aren't avaliable here in NZ in either the markets or shops and I've never bothered to grow them, but I honestly feel like they're something I would love!

9:33 PM  

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