Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Allotment to Table: Artichokes on the Menu

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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.

Victor&Globe Artichokes

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.

BoilingArtichokes

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.

ArtichokesCooked

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.

ArtichokeEating

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.

ArtichokeHeart

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12 thoughts on “Allotment to Table: Artichokes on the Menu

  1. I have never eaten an artichoke – ever. Might have to go buy some just to see if it really is as good as you make it sound S 😉

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  2. Thanks for the lesson on how to eat an artichoke. I’ve only ever bought ready to eat ones in jars. 🙂

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    • I’d no idea how to cook or eat artichokes until the first two were harvested from our allotment and I looked it up in the wonderful “Little Book of Vegetables”. I only like easy cookery books that cover the basics. Most days it’s book-free invention time in the kitchen, which is much less frustrating than getting flour, egg yolks, jam and stuff all over one’s cookery book so the pages end up sticking together.

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  3. Never tried them because they look inedible (sure that’s the right word) though I am now tempted. What’s the taste actually like? Can they be compared to anything else?

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    • Hard to describe them really. They’re sort of unique. (Nah, that’s a cop out that description. I’m meant to be a writer). Slightly like base of cooked celery without the stringy bits, and the texture of asparagus but smoother. Some people say they’re like Brussel sprouts but I don’t agree, as they’re much more pleasant tasting. It’s quite a subtle flavour but a strangely comforting food. I know they’re very good for you and soothing to the stomach; also full of antioxidants and are, I should imagine, quite alkaline.

      Cybele Moon has eaten them. Let’s ask her to describe their taste. Are you there, Cybele?

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  4. every great writer must include a recipe ala Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas!! Love artichokes and use them in stuffed sole.

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  5. Delicious. Ours haven’t got any flowers yet. Boo hoo!

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    • I think things are very ahead where I live on the southeast coast of the UK. Just think, when our artichokes are over, you’ll be able to start enjoying yours. Good luck with the flowering.

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  6. I think I had an artichoke in a restaurant in Italy once, but I suspect it was the vinaigrette version and not very pleasant, but I’ll have to try it this way now!

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    • I was going to try the vinaigrette version, but it sounds as if I’d better stick to the hot, buttery one instead! Anyway, I prefer hot food to cold, with the exception of a select few fruits or goat’s milk ice cream plonked on top of a hot pudding. Thanks for the warning, Andrea 🙂

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  7. Pingback: September’s Allotment Beauties | Sarah Potter Writes

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