7.13.2011

weeds + water: artichoke adventures


ah, the strange and lovely artichoke.

i have no memory of ever eating one during my childhood years in ohio.

when i moved to sunny california, i was introduced to this odd vegetable.

over the last decade of west coast living, i have consumed this green globe in a multitude of ways: steamed and dipped in olive oil, hollandaise, aioli, or butter, pickled and served as antipasti, stuffed and baked, roasted on pizza, tossed in pasta, chopped in salads, whirled into dip, and pureed into soup.

for many years, i only saw the market-ready version of artichokes, which look like this...


although i consumed artichokes regularly during this time, i never knew exactly what they were or how they grew.

after five years of southern california living, i moved to san francisco, met kevwrex, visited the reid ranch, and was finally introduced to the perennial artichoke patch.

as i watched the fascinating plants grow throughout the year i realized that they evolve from this...


into this...


after some very basic research, i discovered that artichokes are essentially big mediterranean thistles.

when they blossom, they turn into fluffy purple explosions...


amazing, right?

a few things about artichokes...they:

* have incredibly sharp thorns - yowza!
* make me think of eeyore, who loves to eat thistles.
* are "carciofo" in italian, "alcachofa" in spanish, and "artichaut" in french.
* have one of the highest reported antioxidant capacities of vegetables.
* usually grow from four to six feet tall.
* are really quite delicious.

8 comments:

HazelandMare said...

Holy moly, I never even knew they made beautiful flowers! This has been a great science lesson :) Do you have any tips on yummy artichoke preparation?

jackiebean said...

love artichokes! the photos with the fuzzy purple flowers are so pretty.

i passed by some artichokes growing in someone's front yard here in portland. they look like regular artichokes, but are a little smaller. it was exciting because i had never seen one growing in person before. i'm not sure if they are edible, or just decorative. do you think anyone would notice if i casually snipped one next time i walk by? ;)

Jo said...

I've been eating artichokes forever, and had absolutely no idea that they blossomed into something so colorful and beautiful...not that they aren't a beautiful vegetable to begin with! ;)

ALFIE said...

i'm in love with this post.

artichokes are a favorite of mine. i enjoy the stuffed and roasted variety. but i'll also peel back the layers and eat them drizzled with oil.

i think i'd love an artichoke soup...

tea and chickadees said...

Wow! What an exotic creature! I can't really fathom a field of these giant purple-bloomed vegetables ... its all just too alien-beautiful!
p.s. I have never eaten an artichoke, I have no idea why, they just never cross my path.

BeccaJ said...

As a recent visitor to the Reid Ranch, do you know what I love about this post? Your amazing ability to find the most beautiful illustrations and pieces of art from places like etsy! I've been completely captivated by those prints in your most recent posts! Makes me want to spend my days wading through etsy. And the good thing is (for my pocket book) I'm almost as content to pin them on Pinterest as to purchase them. Maybe something special will find its way to my home. That artichoke would be perfect for the kitchen!

knitxcore. said...

wow! look at that blue fluff ball!!!! i wish i could grow some in the garden now. haha.

sara said...

amazing what one learns when one takes the time to look it up...duh, artichokes look exactly like thistles once you know they're related. thank you for sharing your new found knowledge and your pretty photos.