Sunday, November 1, 2009

Artichokes - Carciofi

This week I noticed at a neighborhood vegetable stand that there were two types of artichokes for sale. Atichokes from Sardenia were 90 cents and ones from Puglia were €1. I asked the shopkeeper about her artichokes and she explained that the “Roman artichokes” are only available in the spring. (That is when the green market near our house has them for sale at about one-fourth of the price.)I discovered that artichokes were know in Rome before the time of the Caesars and were an expensive specialty. They became popular in Naples in the 15th Century and, from there, spread to Florence and Venice. Catherine de Medici introduced the artichoke to the French Court in 1633 when she married King Henry IV. By the end of that century, it was widely cultivated in Italy, Spain, and France. (Artichokes were introduced by the Spanish to California during the 1700s.)
There are two varieties of artichoke. The one I was familiar with before moving to Rome was conical shaped. We just eat the heart and the tips of the leaves. The Italian varieties of artichokes are globed shaped. Here we eat the entire artichoke. (In Rome you can order fried artichokes, which are delicious!)


laurent said...

thank you for that, I wondered if they were in fact Italian or imported. Nice to know.

Shari said...

Ciao Larry! I carciofi bellisimi! Do you have a favorite recipe to share?