Veggie of the Week - Artichokes
sponsored by Coleman Farms
Artichokes are definitely not fast food: they can take nearly an hour to cook and, as usually served, call for picky eating,
particularly if the thorny bits have been left on. It's surprising on the surface that anyone would go to the trouble of washing,
trimming, and cooking one of these things to then have to spend a fair amount of time dismantling and consuming it leaf by leaf,
all for a few tablespoons of flesh. It's more work than chicken wings. The time and effort, obvious in the abstract,
seem to vanish during actual consumption. This is partly, I think, due to the mind-freeing simplicity of the pluck and eat operation,
and partly that there's something special about artichoke flesh - the slightly granular dryish pasty texture, the metallic taste and odor
and a flavor that's not sweet like a carrot nor savory like a potato, that, in fact, doesn't really seem particularly vegetable at all.
And then there's the element of mystery - how much, and how nice, will the artichoke's heart prove to be when it's finally discovered?
As our links show, there are all sorts of ways of preparing artichokes besides steaming or boiling and presenting them together with a saucer of dressing,
the tradional style charmingly described in Wikipedia, where it's been lifted from a hundred-year old grocer's manual.
Stuffed ones, for instance, have popped up on the screen a couple of times recently. It seems like a lot of work, more,
certainly than stuffed peppers, but probably results in a more impressive dish, with the stuffing protected in a turret of stiff leaves (or bracts)
rather than a soft slumping pepper. There's also 'Artichoke Benedict', Egg Benedict served in a hollowed out cooked artichoke.
This seems pushing things a little, and certainly not fit for Eggs Benedict's rôle as après party food. There are recepies
for these dishes and others, and for a number of sauces, at 'artichokes.org'. The 'italianmade' and 'aufeminin'
pages have some straightforwad uses for artichokes in cooking - as distinct from as a dish on their own
Artichokes are interesting nutritionally. They're high in vitamins C and B6 and contain lots of minerals - potassium and phosporous as well as iron,
copper, manganese and magnesium. The metallic flavor is perhaps justified.
photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org