My first encounter with this complicated vegetable came well into my 20’s. Ours was a basic peas, carrots, corn kind of family.
It was at a small roadside restaurant called “Spuds” in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Its success came with simplicity. They only served 2 things; baked potatoes, with all kinds of toppings, and steamed artichokes.
It quickly became a favorite lunch spot. The potatoes were a full meal, but we came back for the artichokes, which were a ritual.
I didn’t order the artichoke until I’d observed folks at work at surrounding tables.
It was a fascinating process, removing the thorny outer leaves, dipping them in molten butter, scraping the “meat” out with your teeth, and progressing to the much desired heart at the center, which also took a bit of work to uncover.
It is not for the timid, or for folks who are in a hurry. It is the polar opposite of fast food.
The only equivalent for me was the way we harvested the edible parts of those Maryland blue crabs, another time consuming, painstaking eating ritual which I’d seen since childhood. But again, so worth the effort.
First mentioned by Homer in the 8th century BC, the artichoke emerged as a garden plant in the Mediterranean. Today, nearly 100 percent of the crop here in the US comes from California.
Interesting to note that at full maturity, it blooms a beautiful purple flower that renders the plant inedible.
As I dipped into my second batch of artichoke- spinach dip this holiday, I thought of the ritual, and missed it a bit.
There is a can of artichoke hearts in my pantry right now.
I just can’t bring myself to open it.
I love artichokes, but I almost never cook them. I guess I just never think about it.
Same here, at least I don’t steam the whole vegetable. Thanks, Laura. 💝
I love artichokes too and “discovered them in my 20s after growing up in a household where peas, carrots and broad beans were the regular veg on the menu – I guess that what came frozen in 80s Britain! Until recently I ate canned artichokes pretty much every day – I’ll put them in or on anything – but I’ve pulled in the purse strings while I am looking for my next job, so I can’t afford to do that at the moment. I have a can in the pantry that I am saving for a special occasion, and hoping they might be cheap to buy fresh when they come into season – when is artichoke season?!?
Here in the US, they come available in the winter months. The hearts are fairly pricey in the can, labor-intensive I guess. Thanks for the visit and comment. 💖
I have a can of artichoke hearts in my pantry, too 😉 When we lived farther North, we grew them in the garden. Alas, that has proven to be impossible to do in Florida. One thing I don’t understand is why people only eat the bud – in my opinion, the stem is just as tasty. Unfortunately, they generally are not sold with stems
It’s a bit odd for me, I only bought them whole and steamed them a few times…it is nice to find them on a menu. How nice that you grew them ! 🌅 Thanks, Jeanne.
Oh, I love them too. My favorite vegetable, in fact. Wonderful however, wherever they are — it’s my favorite topping for pizza.
But the best way, also discovered in my 20s, is just how you described them. Julia Child has a wonderful lemon butter sauce that is the perfect accompaniment. But really, anything will do.
My mouth is watering!
I’ve seen them offered with fancy mayo (aioli), Hollandaise, etc. Melted butter works for me every time. Must be almost lunchtime, Elyse. 💛 💚 💙
I love fresh artichokes. They are a ritual of love.😊
A wonderful thought. Thanks, Brigid. ❤️
It is odd how some things just do leave that impression. I had to write about artichokes and my first encounter too 🙂 https://thesilenteye.co.uk/2016/09/18/the-artichoke-heart/
I remember this post, a perfect metaphor, I must have left a comment. Thanks for the link, Sue. ❤️
You did, Van…I should have checked first 🙂 ❤
☺ I remember the artwork…just lovely.
I really liked that painting too.
Now I want an Artichoke. At least its not fattening.
Me, too. Thanks, Paul 💛 💚
‘O) Happy New Year, Van.
These are a veggie I have never tried to grow Van.. My first encounter with them was when I was abroad on holiday.. 🙂 🙂 They are tasty when prepared correctly.. 🙂
I hope you had a lovely Christmas Van.. 🙂 Wishing you a Wonderful Happy New Year..
Love and Blessings
Seems like they need a warm climate, Sue. Thanks so much, glad to see you back in action. All the best to you in the new year. 💚 💙 💜
Thank you Van.. Yes I think they prefer warmth sooner than rain lol xxx
Van, the dip sounds delicious! That could be a new ritual, making it! The canned artichoke hearts not the same! Don’t remember many food related rituals. Need to think about that! 💛Christine
It was a good one…spinach, artichoke, asiago cheese. I won’t lie…I purchased it at a Farmer’s Market, twice.☺ Thanks, Christine. ❤️
I don’t know if artichokes and I ever become friends… lol!
It’s a process, Erika. Seems to be worth a try if you ever get the chance. 💛 💚 💙
I did several times…. lol! But I should try again in a few years. Perhaps my taste changes…. haha!
Artichokes are one of the weirdest vegetables. But they taste good.
I enjoy weird, Julie. It makes sense to like this one. Thanks. 💜
I enjoy weird, too. 😉
Artichokes are wonderful. You can enjoy them in so many ways. 🙂
It seems so, Tonya. 💛 💚 Thanks.
I began enjoying artichokes much later in life and wish I would have found them earlier. I enjoy them now in different ways, especially marinated and in salads.
Marinated…yes ! Good call, George. 💗
Artichokes were a treat when I was a kid. I remember how delicious the meat was after it had soaked up some butter.
It’s a unique taste, Robert, for sure. Glad you had the experience (with butter ☺). Thanks. 💝
My favorite dip for steamed artichoke is mayo mixed with a bit of balsamic vinegar and ground pepper – so yum!
That’s a new combination to me, Goose. Sounds great. Thanks. 💖
I love me some artichokes!
💗 No doubt. Thanks, Vic.
I only tried scraping that leafy part once, years ago, and didn’t like it. However….those artichoke hearts on a certain sub sure do make it amazing!!!
On a sub ? Sounds interesting ! ☺
The artichoke hearts, mushrooms, cheese. Yum.
Will have to experiment with that one a bit. Thanks. 💖
What a coincidence! I was just listening to a chef talk about dipping these in an aioli sauce! Yum! BTW, love the pic! I’ve never seen them in growing.
I know…have you ever seen a stalk of fresh brussels sprouts ? Like flower buds on a thick stem. ☺ Fascinating. It seems aioli works great, as does almost any white sauce. Thanks, G. 💗
Yes, very fascinating!
I have seen pictures of brussels sprouts growing too and I was going to mention that in my previous comment..LOL!!! Yet another coincidence huh? ✨
Ha…great minds think alike ??? Have a great day, G. 💘
Hi Van – I have never had the pleasure of the artichoke – I had no idea the process of “dismembering” was so lobster-like. I must confess, I am a tiny bit curious, but probably not enough to break out of peas-and-carrots mode.
Hi Maggie. So nice to see you again. ☺ Thanks for the visit. If you see them on a menu, you might give them a try. 💖
It took mum years to grow them, both Jerusalem and Globe but she did and we loved them, just as you described. I think giving up her adored artichoke plants hurt as much as anything when she left.
You are the first to have known them fresh-grown, Geoff. Good to hear that she had success with them, sad for sure when they were gone. Thanks. 💗 💖
Took her a good ten years to establish them
Lovely little thorny delicacies!
Great description. 💛 💚
My friend Tori (RIP) was from California, and was my introduction to many new and exciting foods. She steamed artichokes and dipped them in butter, and I had never had JUST the artichoke, cooked like that. I still love them like that. When I do them, The Mister will eat it, but complain about the work the entire time. I also usually finish uncovering his crab meat, too, so you know, he’s not a foodie. lol 🙂 I seldom prepare them. I ate them more when I was single.
Laughing about the crab. Many crab vendors also had steamed shrimp. It was my choice as a kid. I always cut my fingers on the crab shells. As an adult, I made the effort (but still nicked my skin a bit). 🦀
To me it’s to much work for the payback. Hope you well. Do me a huge favor, read Throw Back. I’m falling into a black place, I read it over and it sounds like a kids wrote it. I’m taken two dedications early brain pills. I don’t know when to quit.
I understood that you would try to include more info on the artists, M. I did focus more on the videos. Hope that makes sense. Take care. 💕
I put hem in my flower beds.
Do you eat them, or allow them to flower ? ☺
Yum! I love artichokes and get them to grow in my garden (though not as big as the California variety). I let the tiny ones flower and savor the others 😀
Food and flowers…the best of both worlds, D. Good for you. ❤️ 💛 💚
I love this description and memory! Lovely Van xxx
Thank you, Lynn. 💗 💝
When I used to live in San Diego, I made artichokes all the time. Simple steamed with butter. I wonder if I can find good ones in Massachusetts this time of year. Feeling inspired to look for sure. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂
Simple seems to work, and butter makes anything better. I’ve seen them here in PA. in the winter months. Good luck in your search. 💖
I’ve only tried my hand at fresh artichokes once (blame it on youth and inexperience). It’s not something I’m likely to try again. 😀 They’re fine — as long as someone else cooks them. Happy New Year. Hugs.
I understand, Teagan. And a most Happy New Year to you as well. ❤️ 💛 💚
Van, I LOVE artichokes! The anticipation of getting to the heart thrills me every time I eat one. You must try artichokes with melted cheese. Oh YUM! Totally out of this world delicious! 🙂 ❤
Anything is better with cheese, Amy. 💝
I’ve never had an artichoke, as a child I didn’t like the name so of course I wouldn’t like it! 😉 But you make me want to try one now, as soon as I set aside some time. 🙂
I felt the same way about asparagus…love them now ! Thanks, Deb. 💖
Me too!! Ha! Although I have tried asparagus, not a fan. 🙂
A nice narrative. I’m not much fond of artichokes, but I enjoyed this virtual treat… 🙂
Glad to hear it, Mani. 💝
🙂 ❤ …
I’ve eaten artichokes the way you describe only a handful of times, and it really is a culinary experience! I have photos of artichoke crops in CA from a recent trip out there as well. And when I lived in Florida, I went “fishing” for blue crabs off the docks of Tampa Bay with friends all the time. The locals taught me how to tie chicken necks to strings to lure the crabs in. One had to be quick with the net to catch them! We even made a blue crab marinara sauce together, although I remember it was so much work for so little crab! But I agree, both are delicacies and well worth the effort. Wish you all the very best in 2017, Van… (Dorothy, my friend.) xoxo
Ahh…the chicken neck/crabbing thing…good for you for trying all of that. We used to buy them by the bushel at roadside stands in Md. Glad to see you, Kelly. Hope 2017 treats you kindly. 💕
Your way sounds much easier! Hope you have a great day – you wouldn’t believe what I just drove in – gotta love winter! xo
Be careful out there.
I love artichokes. I love them fire roasted and dipping in some tasty sauce. But I don’t like to be the ones making them, fiddling with thorns and such. Always better when someone else makes them. 🙂
Fire roasted…sounds special. I think I steamed them at home once or twice, and then gave up, looking for them on the menu. Thanks, Deb. 💖
My favorite place to have them was at the Cheesecake Factory, which sadly after many years, took them off the menu last winter. 😦
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Enjoyed your post and will be sharing it on my blog this Thursday. Thanks!
Thank you, Bobbi, for the comment and share.
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I enjoyed this post but I do not enjoy artichokes 😝 you almost make me wanna try them again.
It might just be an all new experience for you ! Thanks, Jelka.
artichokes kind of remind me of asparagus, in like texture/taste