The ever willing to be fed Mr P and I have been experimenting with Artichokes now and again this Summer. These prickly little devils are not something we’re at all used to dealing with in their whole, gorgeous form. I love artichokes, but have never ventured further than the marinated, Italian kind you throw on pizza’s or into a pasta. Yum. So, when I saw the whole thistle at the market, earlier in the Summer Season, how could I resist giving it a go? Well, I did the research and picked the thing up de temp en temp, turning it in my hand, eyeballing it suspiciously through narrowed eyes and wondered what to do. Out came the kitchen shears, a steamer and an apron. I whipped up a little bowl of dip, set the table for two and yelled “grubs up” down the passageway to a very distracted Mr P, who came sauntering into the kitchen just as I hauled the steamed, now brownish green globes from the steamer. He stopped, raised a quizzical brow and slowly, rather gingerly, sat down.
“These are supposed to be great”, I told him as I arranged one on each plate. “Everybody raves about them. Very Californian, you know.” As if that would make him feel less anxious about the strange, almost grey now, artichoke in front of him. “So, what you do, is you pick off a leaf, dunk it in the dip and, voila!” I chirped, doing just that. And sort of spat it out again. It was tough, leathery on the one side and pasty, squishy on the other. We kind of picked at the leaves, one after the other, until we both gave up, our faces and plates a mess of half chewed artichoke leaves and dipping sauce. I think we ended up with beans on toast that night, but the wine was pretty good.
This couldn’t be right. There must be something I’m missing. How can everybody be going gaga over artichokes when they seem so Wrong? I’ve tried a couple times, and this last time I was seduced by how fresh this bunch looked. They’re quite a bit smaller and I figured more tender. Well, they didn’t taste bad by any means, but still not worthy of a rave account. I chopped off the tops, steamed them for about 10 mins, stuffed them with parmesan, bread crumbs and olive oil and then baked them for another 10 or 15 mins.
Help? Someone? Anyone?