If we pretend we're just seeing an artichoke for the first time, it is quite weird-looking, isn't it? It is like the plant version of a Pangolin. Weird and wonderful. I have always been fascinated by them and one fine day, some months ago, I thought to myself: this vegetable is really beautiful and delicious, but what the heck is it, really? Come to find out, it is not even really a vegetable. So, that is kinda what started my Food Origins book idea.
WHAT IS IT?: We typically refer to artichokes as vegetables - which is not incorrect - because after all, they are in the vegetable section in the supermarket and they are not fruit. But scientifically, it is a flower bud of a type of thistle.
SYMBOLISM: The artichoke symbolizes hope for a prosperous future. The heart of the artichoke also represents the hope for future love.
SEASONS: There are 2 seasons for artichokes. The main season in May and a smaller harvest in October.
BUYING: Since it is meant to be eaten as an unopened flower, choose artichokes that are firm and have tightly-packed leaves. Any looseness will indicate that the flower had started to open, hence considered over ripe.