Last year when I was in Madrid I had what I can only describe as an artichoke stew. It was delicious and since then I have become determined to cook my own artichokes. Unfortunately it would appear Fife greengrocers either have not heard of them, can’t get them or have already recognised that there is no market for them other than one mad Fifer who has become besotted with them. However, thanks to a desperate tweet into the ether I became the delightful owner of not one but two artichokes yesterday.
Against popular belief Twitter is not full of trolls, axe murders or Mr Kippers and there are some bloody decent human beings who will go above and beyond to furnish a mad Fife woman not only with artichokes but a veritable stash of ingredients to accompany them. I can’t thank my internet pal enough but I won’t name him since I think bringing back artichokes in your luggage from Spain might be a no no.
So last night saw me preparing one of the artichokes by trimming the leaves and stalk, washing it and then steaming it over a pan of water with some lemon slices, garlic cloves, bay leaves and szechuan peppercorns. I also made some simple dips – mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar and some Old Bay seasoning, and melted butter with lemon juice, salt and pepper, which I have to say was so simple but so delicious.
After the artichoke had steamed until it was easy to pick off a petal (around 30 mins) I served it up with the dips. If, like me, you have no idea how to eat an artichoke what to do is pull off a petal, dip the white fleshy end into the dip, then dip side down put it in your mouth and close your teeth around it. Then you can pull it out so your teeth scrape along the petal capturing the dip and some of the flesh off the petal. Discard the petal and start again.
When you get into the inner leaves they are a lot more tender and have purple tips. They can be removed all at once but just eat the lighter coloured part of the leaf. Soon you will come to a fuzzy bit, which means you have found the choke. This covers the heart but as it is too fibrous you want to scrape it out with a spoon and get rid of it.
Underneath the choke is the heart and the most delicious part of the artichoke. You can cut it into pieces and dip it.
It’s been almost a year since I had my artichoke stew but my patience and tweeting paid off and I loved my journey of discovery into the preparing and eating of artichokes.
By the way, if this blog has piqued your interest in artichokes I’d recommend a holiday in Spain rather than playing the long game on Twitter.