Allotment to Table: Artichokes on the Menu
Oh, master of the allotment! See the pride on his face. The photograph below was the respectable one, taken after he’d settled down a bit and stopped behaving like a naughty schoolboy (they never grow up, do they?). The rude photo is going on Facebook for private viewing, where a degree of allotment banter already occurs.
Until a fortnight ago, I’d never cooked or eaten globe artichokes. For anyone who’s never tried them, they’re worth the effort. First, cut off their stems level with the bottom of the globe. Second, trim the tips of each leaf as they’re a bit spiky and you don’t want to jab your lips or mouth with them when going through the strange artichoke eating ritual. Third, rinse them well before cooking, in case a snail has taken up residence under a leaf. Then put them in a large saucepan, cover them with water and boil for 30-45 minutes, depending on their size. I turn them upside down for the last 15 minutes, just to make sure they’re cooked properly all the way through.
Put a knob of butter on top of the artichoke and let it soak in. I’m salivating at the sight of this, but am too ladylike to let go of any bloodhound-type drool streamers; especially bearing in mind that globe artichokes are served in posh restaurants as an expensive hor d’oeuvre. Some people prefer them served cold with vinaigrette, although I haven’t tried that version yet.
Wearing my scruffs, I peel off the leaves one-by-one, most daintily nibbling off the soft flesh near their bases. And a word of warning, don’t attempt to eat the hard part of the leaves but discard them in a side-bowl as you’d need to have teeth and a stomach like a goat to deal with them. Also, if you have long hair, tie it back or it will get butter all over it. As for Him Indoors, who’s sitting opposite me at the table, he mightn’t have long hair but he’s got himself in a right mess with butter all down his chin and his front.
And lastly, when you’ve removed all the leaves, this is what you’ll find in the middle. THE ARTICHOKE HEART. Yes, it’s worthy of capital letters. Just remove the tiny hairy flower tips from the centre of the heart as they’re a bit scratchy to eat, then pick up your knife and fork to eat this last delight in measured bites, and … more capital letters required … SAVOUR THE FLAVOUR.