Artichokes: “the vegetable expression of civilised living”?

June 19, 2006


Globe Artichoke

Originally uploaded by tostadora.

Here's a quote from Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book

"The artichoke above all is the vegetable expression of civilized living, of the long view, of increasing delight by anticipation and crescendo"

High praise for an edible thistle. Yes, they're very nice but I don't completely buy into them as the lord of all vegetables. Maybe its the way I cooked them. Basically, I followed Grigson's instructions to the letter. Its a very simple recipe:

Soak in salted water for 30 minutes or so. Boil in acidulated water (a tablespoon of vinegar per pint of water) for about 3o minutes. Peel off the leaves, dunk in melted butter and use your teeth to scrape off the soft flesh from the base of each leaf. When you get to the centre, remove the hairy choke carefully and eat the remaining heart.

The soft heart was subtle and lovely – a comforting melting texture. The leaves were fun to pick and scrape at. The whole messy, extended process is the vegetarian equivalent of shelling a crab at the table.

However, we both picked up on a strange metallic after-taste. I've never had it before with artichokes. Anyone have any ideas what could have caused it?? Anyone had the same problem?

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4 Responses to “Artichokes: “the vegetable expression of civilised living”?”

  1. crzy_rgntnn Says:

    mmm, perhaps not playing Led Zeppelin while cooking these might do the trick…

  2. vegboxdiary Says:

    actually, i was listening to country’n’western at the time – maybe it was too much steel guitar (har har)…

    i think the answer to the mystery may be found in this quote from wikipedia:
    “It may be preferable to not cover the pot while the artichokes are boiled, so that the acids will boil out into the air. Covered artichokes can turn brown due to the acids and chlorophyll becoming theophylline.”

    Don’t ya just hate that pesky theophylline?


  3. I suspect you might have used an aluminium saucepan to boil them. The vinegar would have reacted with the aluminium (as all acids do). That’s why aluminium pans look sparkingly clean after cooking fruit – you’ve just eaten a layer of the inside!

  4. gastropunk Says:

    yeuughh, mum always said i had an iron stomach, now i really do….


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