Monday, May 16, 2011

Artie Chokes Three for a Dollar

We planted an artichoke plant in our front yard a year or so ago and take a look at it now. I think our first artichoke is just about ripe. And there is a second choke a bit lower on the plant as well.  We do have the right weather for artichokes, cool and moist in the summer, but the soil here is rocky and hard, and we didn't think it would thrive like this.  We bought it at Home Depot, which we do not boycott even if they do sell the despicable French Broom (see this post).
I grew up near Castroville, California, the self declared 'Artichoke Center of the World,' most likely an undisputed title. I can't imagine any other town in the world would want it. Not that artichokes are bad, I love them, but they are basically a domesticated thistle, not a rose.  And the fruit must be picked before it flowers, turning into a lovely purple but inedible posy.
Since we have never grown an artichoke before I was looking online for information on how to tell when they are ripe for the pickin', and I found 'What's Cooking America' has a well researched page on the history of artichokes.  There I found out they were created by Zeus.  He had an affair with a mortal named Cynara, and when she later displeased him, he turned her into an artichoke plant. Some early philosophers considered it to be an aphrodisiac, and the English word for the plant came from the Arabic "al’qarshuf".  
In any case, we will be harvesting and enjoying this choke soon.

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