Things I haven't tried and need questions answered about
Tahini (not sure what that is)
Hearts of palm (what are those anyways?)
probably a few others i might add as i go along.
Basicly i would like it if someone could tell me what these things taste like, what they are, and how you use them....
Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. Have you had sesame oil in anything? It's a similar taste, but a texture closer to peanut butter.
Hummus is ground garbanzo beans (chick peas) with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini. Think of it as a Middle Eastern bean dip.
Hearts of palm are the centers of very young palm trees with the bark and outer tough layer taken off. They are usually canned in a light brine. The taste is a bit lemony/salty. I like them in salads.
I'll let someone else take over now. Hope that helps.
Foie gras is the liver of a goose (or, more often in this country) a duck that has been fed more than it usually would eat (I'm not going to get into any controversy here, it doesn't belong on this site!). It's typically greenish-grey, absolutely enormous, and has a creamy, rich taste. I don't like it. But a lot of other people do.
Hummus is an incredibly savoury dip made, as weezycom, from chickpeas, garlic, lemon, olive oil, tahini (ground up sesame seeds) and salt. It's enchantingly good -- eat it with warm pita bread. Rip a piece of pita off, scoop up some hummus, you're good to go. It's also great as a bread spread for sandwiches.
By the way, the same dish made with barbecued eggplants in place of chickpeas is called babaghannoush and has a smoky flavour that I love.
Artichokes -- they're large overgrown thistles, basically. The artichoke itself is the flower. To cook it, most people trim off the tips of the outer leaves (they're SHARP!) or just use a serrated knife to slice off the top inch and a half or so of a full-sized artichoke. Then you can just steam it until a knife goes in easily into the stem end. You eat by pulling off the outer leaves, dipping the "thick" end into a sauce (often mayonnaise, aioli which is garlic mayo, or butter), then scraping the "thick" end between your teeth. When you get to the tiny soft purple leaves inside, pick them out, and you'll see a fuzzy part -- that's the choke. Use a knife or a grapefruit spoon to get the fuzzy part out (you'll see a dark line on the outside of the artichoke at this point that tells you how deep to dig). The rest of it is completely edible and is called the "heart" -- the best part of the artichoke. The stem is also good -- if you get a long-stemmed artichoke, trim the stem to remove the woody part but leave the long stem on!
re: Das Ubergeek
Artichokes are beautiful in dried flower arrangements but I don't get them as a vegetable. I've had them fresh from the fields in Watsonville, Gilroy, Salinas, with nothing on them, with garlic/butter, with mayonnaise/aioli, many ways, it didn't taste great to me and I love vegetables. I'd love to know who the first person is who discovered if you steam these, get around the thistles and pull the leaves off, you get something edible.
Hummus - creamy dip (different flavors)
Artichoke - aphrodisiac
Hearts of palm - healthy
Foie gras - caloric, but worth it
If you do decide to try foie gras, make sure you go to a good restaurant that serves grade A whole foie gras. Lower grades tend to be bitter because of the blood vessels. Be sure not to have the cheap kind that tastes like pate. The first time I had foie gras, it just tasted like fat to me, but the second time, I was hooked!