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Artichokes! Carciofi! Rome....

sarahbeths Apr 22, 2010 04:48 PM

Artichokes are my soul food. When I was a baby in Rome, my mom says I asked for "Carciofi!: So for my upcoming trip to Rome, a lot of my research has been artichoke based. But I keep hearing "if artichokes are still in season..." Please tell me that in early July, I will still be able to order artichokes!!!

My other question is- I prefer my carciofi alla romana to alla guida. Some places that I have bookmarked for artichokes- like Piperno- maybe don't do alla romana?

Who has the best roman style artichokes in Rome?


  1. mbfant Apr 22, 2010 11:41 PM

    Sorry, but the season is winding down right now, in April. No way you EVER have local artichokes in July. At the other end of the summer we get imports from France very early, before anything from Puglia or Sardinia (two big sources of nonlocal artichokes). Possibly with increasing globalization the import season will be extended, but Italian artichokes run from about October to April, with some variation from year to year but never including summer.

    The restaurants like Piperno that draw people from all over the world for carciofi alla giudia manage to have them all year, but it's don't ask, don't tell. Anybody who is serving carciofi alla romana in July is probably a charlatan who doesn’t respect local food ways, and you can bet he's not getting his artichokes around these parts.

    16 Replies
    1. re: mbfant
      sarahbeths Apr 23, 2010 09:20 AM

      This is very tragic. So some places will be serving artichokes in july, but probably from frozen? I guess I shouldn't base my restaurant choices around carciofi any more :( Is Piperno good independently?

      Sigh, very sad. There are so many reasons I wouldn't have chosen July for this trip, but the whole cross atlantic trip is based on a wedding at the end of June in France,

      1. re: sarahbeths
        jen kalb Apr 23, 2010 09:36 AM

        they will not be frozen they will just not be local. There is a huge demand for artichokes in Rome year round, the produce market (think bananas or apples, it applies to artichokes too) is global and not everyone obeys the eat local/eat seasonal conventions. For example farther north in Europe, artichokes are a summer and fall crop. So chances are, you will find your artichokes where you expect to see them. Im sure carciofi alla romana are best made with the local artichokes but in the ends its a recipe and can be applied to "foreign" produce.
        Hope you report back.

        1. re: jen kalb
          sarahbeths Apr 23, 2010 09:59 AM

          Well of course I'd rather eat local artichokes, but I'm thrilled something will be available since its my first trip to Italy in 6 long years!

          So the question remains, which roman places serve the best roman style artichokes?

          1. re: sarahbeths
            zerlina Apr 23, 2010 10:15 AM

            Frankly, I suspect that the places that make carciofi alla giudea make them all year long, because they're more often than not a signature dish, while the places that make carciofi alla romana make them in season. I've had them at Da Gino, at lunch, in season.

            1. re: zerlina
              mbfant Apr 23, 2010 11:11 AM

              That's right. Piperno (which is good) can't very well not serve carciofi alla giudia, but it is simply not serious, given the local food culture, to attempt carciofi alla romana in summer, And I don't think I have ever seen them in summer. Last year the French artichokes were available, and being served, in September.

              1. re: mbfant
                bob96 Apr 23, 2010 10:58 PM

                No one's said much about what non-local sacrifices in flavor: are artichokes from, say, Brittany or the Drome or the Paestum fields (not exactly from non-local New Zealand distances, after all) simply not good made alla romana or all giudia?
                Different enough as a variety? I'm a strong supporter of seasonal everything (having grown up in NY when you could not and would not think of, say, fennel in summer), but I'm not sure I see how or why a Campanian artichoke, well grown and handled, might be so anathema. And I say this knowing and mostly appreciating how picky Italian eaters are.

                1. re: bob96
                  cigalechanta Sep 3, 2010 07:21 PM

                  I buy fennel in my farmers' markets in August.

      2. re: mbfant
        kyeblue Apr 23, 2010 01:04 PM

        For good or bad, with the globalization of food sources and local green house vegetables, we rarely think about what are in season anymore.

        Maureen, can you let us know what are the summer vegetables in rome? I don't even know what is seasonal in New York, tomato can be from Israel and grapes from Chile, the only exceptions are apples and corns in early fall.

        1. re: kyeblue
          mbfant Apr 23, 2010 11:02 PM

          In summer, we have the best zucchini in the universe, the zucchine romanesche, characterized by their striated, fluted surface. Also huge, delicious bell peppers. Then, green beans (haricots), flat green beans called fagioli al corallo (pole or Roma beans), fresh borlotti beans (cranberry or pinto), eggplant, locally grown tomatoes. I spend the summer grilling eggplant slices and peeling pecks of roasted peppers.

          1. re: mbfant
            kyeblue Apr 24, 2010 04:03 PM

            I never had fresh borlotti beans, and do not remember last time that i had flat green beans, had to be more than 20 years ago in China. Do they deep fry eggplant in Rome?

            1. re: kyeblue
              jen kalb Apr 24, 2010 05:00 PM

              the "romano" green beans are pretty easy to find in NY in farmers markets maybe even frozen at the supermarket sometimes. Ive grown them in my garden - they are delicious.http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/Ro...
              Im interested that they would have grown these in china.

              1. re: jen kalb
                zerlina Apr 24, 2010 05:52 PM

                I don't think they've grown romano green beans in China. Kyeblue may be referring to the yardlong bean, which Wikipedia tells me is not a bean at all but has much the same uses as the green bean:

                1. re: zerlina
                  jen kalb Apr 24, 2010 05:54 PM

                  thats what I think too - I thought the pic might clarify for him one way or other. tho there is no reason why the chinese would not have obtained western bean seeds by now..

                  1. re: jen kalb
                    kyeblue Apr 24, 2010 06:46 PM

                    believe or not, people grow and eat broad long beans in China, maybe a slighter short version compared to Romano beans. But you can not find them in chinese grocery stores and Chinese restaurants in US. Chinese restaurants in US usually have very limited varieties of vegetables, even in New York. Grocery stores are getting much better but I don't remember seeing broad beans, long or short.

                    here is a picture of how they show in chinese dishes http://food.k369.com/d/file/2009-08-0...

                    1. re: kyeblue
                      jen kalb Apr 24, 2010 07:08 PM

                      Im not sure its exactly the same bean variety as the romano bean, but it really looks good
                      broad beans on the other hand are favas, which is a different species (vicia faba) than the romanos and most other green beans (phaseolus vulgaris). the szechuan hot bean paste uses broad beans and I have seen them on Mao menus

        2. re: mbfant
          DavyTheFatBoy Sep 6, 2010 05:35 PM

          The delicious violet Sant'Erasmo artichokes of Venice start being picked in April, they are in good supply in May in my experience. Not sure how long the season lasts, but definitely well past April.

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