Artichokes – Yeah!
The Artichoke is a Thistle and therefore an edible flower! Isn’t this amazing? A flower that is so much fun to eat and that comes in complex textures, flavour and even structure. There’s so much juxtapositioning going on with the Artichoke …I am getting goosebumps… This is a pretty special vegetable to me!
I am not too keen on fancy Artichoke recipes. Forget the gratin, the carpaccio, the pickled version or the stew. I like to eat them boiled and dipped in butter. It is probably exactly this kind of playful eating process that makes me love the Artichoke so much. I’m also quite fond of using my fingers when eating, a subconscious nod to prehistoric times.
It works like this: You pull a petal off the choke, dip it into butter and then you pull the fleshy part through your teeth to get the meat. Do this until you are left with the choke, which consists of dense hair that should not be eaten. Pull the hair off to get to the heart. Clean or trim the heart if needed and enjoy!
I devour Artichokes and I marvel at the chemical reaction of butter and Artichoke on my tongue. It works just like MSG, it makes you want more. And believe me, once you’ve turned into a little Artichoke-Butter-Junkie like me, there’s no going back!
Although I prefer my Artichokes pure, there’s one recipe that convinced me to bastardise the beautiful globe. It was a Pizza in Verona (Italy) which came with an Artichoke base instead of the usual tomato-sauce. It left me speechless. I must have been 16 back then but I can still vividly remember the flavour, 11 years on.
The Artichoke flavour came from a pureed dense Artichoke-paste that contained endless amounts of flavoursome olive oil. Mixed with parmesan cheese and spread onto an impossibly thin crust, topped with more chunks of cooked baby artichokes and some ham. Baked into a crispy yet creamy disc, a bit of fresh provolone cheese on top, done. I could die for this Pizza right now. No description will ever do it justice, ever!
I guess this will be my task for this week, re-cook this regal Artichoke Pizza, I’ll let you know what happens!