Artichoke

This is the name given to three quite different vegetables, the globe artichoke, the JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE, and the JAPANESE, or Chinese ARTICHOKE.

The globe, or leafy artichoke, which looks like a large thistle, is indigenous to Europe and North Africa, but is now grown in almost every part of the world. There are many varieties which are culti-vated for the bud of the flower. The part of the artichoke where the bud joins the stem is called the heart, ox fond, and has a delicate flavour. Growing from this are the fleshy leaves. At the base of each leaf is a small edible section. Inside the leaves is the inedible choke, a fine, hair-like growth which develops into the flower.

Globe artichokes are rich in iron, mineral salts and iodine and contain some vitamin C. They can be boiled whole, fried, baked stuffed, used to make soup, or the hearts served in a salad. Very small, young artichokes can be eaten whole, raw or fried in batter. In Italy these are bottled in olive oil and are served as an hors d’oeuvre.

Artichokes should never be cooked in aluminium or iron saucepans, as the flesh will turn grey. The best tasting artichokes are heavy, with compact, fleshy, green or purple-green leaves and firm, green stems.

To eat an artichoke, pull off a leaf with your fingers and dip the bottom part of it in melted butter or sauce. Now scrape off this tender flesh between your teeth. Only the tender flesh at the bottom of the leaf is edible. When you have removed all the leaves, you will come to the heart. Scrape off and discard the hairy choke surrounding it. The heart, which is considered to be the best part of the artichoke, is eaten with a knife and fork.

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