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Heart of the matter

artichokes and heart in the middle

1. Waste not want not

Aim for the heart! Be sure to leave the tender part only and  don’t feel sorry for the parts you cut away: they are fibrous and ruin your work. Not cutting enough means the result is useless and all the effort worthless. The heart is part you want to obtain. All the rest could be boiled and used in a broth. Excellent when preparing artichoke risotto.

2. Oxidation

Artichokes tend to stain terribly. Your knife will turn brown as will your hands if you do not wear gloves. Once cut, the same artichoke hearts turn brown, so they are often immersed in acidulated water (squeeze a couple of lemons in water). This does alternates the taste, so consider if the color is necessary for what you plan to do with them.

3. Stories

Marilyn Monroe was crowned miss artichoke in 1948. If not a great award, still better than miss Pea or miss Brussel sprout. Neruda wrote an ode to the artichoke and mighty Zeus turned the beautiful nymph Cynara into an artichoke for sneaking off from Mount Olympus. God knows what that man was thinking!

4. Piece of my heart

If you happen to as fortunate as to have an abundance of artichokes at your disposal, conserve them. Clean them properly, then blanch your artichoke and let them dry. Either freeze portions or conserve in oil.

5. BBQ surprise

Surprise your guests with bbq artichokes. They are very easy to prepare (season them with some salt, pepper and oil) and great to serve. Do you remember pulling petals from flowers to discover whether there was mutual love? This is even better, because you’ll end up with at tasty heart anyhow. If the outer leaves burn, just peel them of and start where they are intact. This unusual treat helps you furthermore to digest. If that isn’t nice, what is?

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