Artichoke, the sweet indulgence of Catherine de Medicis

Sometimes white and sometimes violet, artichoke has been a guest of honor in the banquets of nobility since the XVIth century.

It doesn’t have good looks, but nonetheless this strangely proportioned vegetable was the favorite dish of Catherine de Medicis. It reached the point she thought she was dying of having eaten too much of it!

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White bean marinated artichoke hummus

Ingredients for 4 persons

  • 2.1 oz (60 g) artichokes marinated in a jar
  • 8½ oz (240 g) canned white beans
  • 2 table spoons marinade
  • 1 good-size pinch of salt
  • Put the artichoke and dripped-dried white beans in a blender. Add marinade and salt, to taste. Blend. Store in jars and keep in the refrigerator. Savor with toast on home-made pita bread.
  • As a variation, blend 2 handfuls young spinach shoots with 3.5 oz (100 g) marinated artichoke, 3.5 oz (100 g) fresh goat cheese and a pinch of salt.

Artichoke, a short story

Artichoke in those days was imported form Northern Italy, where it had been grown since 1466. This perennial plant, derived from thistle, arose from a selection process that horticulturists in North Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia followed for generations.

As the future Queen of France moved from Florence to France, she brought along artichoke. It was quickly reputed to be aphrodisiac in the entourage of King Henry the IInd.

Today, Western and Southern France are where it is most cultivated.

Difficult to preserve

From June to September, there are generally only two types of artichoke for sale on market stalls.

White artichoke is most often eaten cooked, steamed or boiled.

Varieties called ‘Vert de Laon’ or ‘Macau de Gironde’ belong to this white artichoke group.

Violet artichoke, on the other hand, is called ‘Poivrade’. When young, it can be eaten raw. In the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator, raw artichoke will keep for several days.

Once cooked, it oxidizes quickly and can give rise to toxic compounds. Cooking juice then turns green. Don’t delay to eat it!

M.B.


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Artichokes by lovepetforever under Pixabay license

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