I was at the checkout line at a grocery store to picked up stuff, including a couple of artichokes for dinner.
The person at the checkout counter paused, then picked up the artichoke as gingerly as she could. Her eyes widened.
She glanced up at me as if she heard the tick, tick, ticking of the cleverly disguised hand grenade she was certain I had put in her checkout line.
"Um," looking back down at this, this, thing, "what IS it?"
And then, I kid you not, she said, "How do you spell that?" [she had to find it on her little spinny wheel thing to get the code]
"How do you spell it," I repeated? "Like artichoke. Ar.Ti. Choke. You know, like artichoke."
She had no idea what this thing was, or that this was actually not a weapon of mass destruction. And that's really the problem with this wonderful edible thistle, that we're largely unfamiliar with it.
So, for those of you who have not had one of these in a while (read, EVER), let me assure you that they will not "go off". It's simple to cook them up. You just take a knife, slice a bit off the top, throw them in a pot of boiling water for about 40 minutes while you're doing other things.
Then, you'll just make a little dipping sauce: a good solid dollop of mayo or sour cream, add enough white wine vinegar to give it the tartness you like. Then, you'll need just a bit of spicy mustard (or better, horseradish!!), with salt/pepper to taste. Poom!!
Then you pull the leaves off one at a time, and eat the "meat" that is closest to the base. Basically, you'll just scrape your teeth across the bottom to get at it. You'll see what I mean once you start. By the time you get to the center, you'll pull out all the thistly parts and then cut up that heart. You can eat it, as is, or put it in a salad (see this recipe).
Reference: Check out this article showing the healthfulness of this wonderful little non-hand grenade. Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):95-135. 2006.
For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.