My first experience with the artichoke was love at first sight. It was the most oddest and yet beautiful looking vegetable I’ve ever seen… and being the curious kid I was, I insisted on buying one. Of course my mom tried to talk me out of it because she didn’t know anything about this strange vegetable and didn’t know how to cook it. It didn’t really matter to me, I was just eager to find out what was under all those leaves. After much pestering, my mom finally bought it for me.
First discovery, I didn’t know about the little thorns on the tip of every leaf. As I proceeded to peel back the leaves, with every prick by the thorns my excitement for this vegetable diminished. I kept peeling back the leaves hoping to see something interesting and tasty looking. In the end, all I got was a big pile of leaves and sore fingers. My discovery of the artichoke was painful and a big disappointment. Needless to say, my love relationship with the artichoke was short and not so sweet. I did not touch another artichoke again until my positive rediscovery of it years later. When I finally learned how to eat an artichoke properly and discovered its many health benefits, I fell in love again.
The artichoke is actually not a vegetable but a flower bud. It is a perennial thistle originating in Southern Europe around the Mediterranean. The edible buds with numerous triangular thorny leaves are formed from a stalk. The edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the base, known as the “heart”; the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud is called the “choke”. The flower bud becomes inedible as it matures and when it blooms, the individual florets are purple.