Artichokes: Our Ingredient of the Week

Kim Conte
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artichokes
Flickr Photo by La Grande Farmers' Market
Each week in Food and Party, we'll be featuring an "Ingredient of the Week" -- paying homage to some of our favorite ingredients all week long with buying and storage tips, recipes, and other useful information.

This week's featured ingredient is: Artichokes.

When it came to finding a mate for ourselves, my sister and I have some pretty tough standards. Sure, intelligence, compassion, and sense of humor are high on the list, but one of our stranger criteria was simply this: Any potential SO had to eat -- or at least be willing to eat -- artichokes.

Weird, right?

But not so weird considering that my sister and I grew up eating artichokes, and they're one of our very favorite foods. They're such a lovely versatile vegetable: stuffed artichokes, steamed artichokes, pizza with goat cheese and artichoke hearts ... the list goes on and on.

My husband, who had never eaten an artichoke before meeting me, was terrified of the spiky green vegetable when I first set it before him. He thinks it's "scary" because there are so many parts of an artichoke that you don't -- or shouldn't really -- eat. But once I schooled him in artichoke etiquette, he was happy to realize that they actually taste really amazing ! And now the three of us (including my sis) fight over the last one at family get-togethers.

I'll be posting my favorite artichoke recipes all this week, and until then, let's review how to eat a whole artichoke:

1. Peel off a petal.

2. With your teeth, scrape off the tender portion at the tip of the petal.

3. Discard petal. (Unless you are my sister's former boyfriend who unknowingly ate the entire thing. And now you know why he is an "ex.")

4. Repeat with remaining petals until all that is left is the fuzzy stuff -- you can't miss it. We call this "the hairy part" in my house.

5. With a fork or other utensil, scrape off all the fuzzy stuff and discard.

6. What remains before you is the artichoke heart. Bow down before it and worship it because this is one of the best things you will ever eat. Once appropriate homage has been paid, cut it into pieces, and enjoy!

Do you eat artichokes or do you think they are too scary?

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