My relationship with artichokes has always been fraught with misunderstanding, suspicion, and frustration. Until now. As a new convert, I’ll tell anyone who’s willing to listen that this is the tastiest, and most rewarding appetizer you can hope to offer your family or your guests.
The artichokes of my childhood were thrown into boiling water whole (stem and all), until they would turn an unsavory gray. Despite sitting in the strainer to drain and cool down, they would be still oozing water by the time they would be put on the table with a bowl of vinaigrette. Then, the hard work would begin: discarding the outer bracts, hard as leather and prickly as thorns, tearing off edible leaves and laboriously scraping the flesh off them through the firm grip of my clenched teeth. After the brief reward of the small, soft, and tasty inner leaves, I knew to watch out for the crown of thorns that defended the thistle. Discarding it with a spoon was a delicate business, as the name of the game was to fully remove this stack of small needles without damaging the ultimate, delicious prize of the whole endeavor: the artichoke’s heart. In the end, I would be left with a big pile a compostable waste in my plate, and not much in terms of satiety or satisfaction to justify the whole affair.