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Calling All American CHs Not Raised in CA!: Did You Grow Up Eating Artichokes?

Whole cooked artichokes are one of my fav foods.They were such a special treat for our family of four- that my Dad instituted his 'Fair system' when it came time to divide and share the delectable artichoke heart: my brother or I cut it into quarters; everyone else chooses! (Boy did we ever cut those quarters equally!!) Anyway, this was not in CA but it is thanks to CA. My parents, from VA and New Orl., met in CA just after the War, and they both discovered and loved artichokes while there, and continued to eat them when they moved east, and wherever we moved after that.

I haven't yet researched the history of artichokes in American cuisine, but i've always had a sense that they were introduced to CA agriculture by Italian immigrants, maybe in the early 20th c., and then were just getting known outside of CA -after the war. How about you? Did you grow up , not in CA, eating them? And how did you eat them? We had two camps- Melted Butter and Mustard Mayo.Now i eat the leaves plain and use Mustard Mayo only for the heart. I feel so delightedly decadent when I cook and eat one all by myself!!

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  1. Great question! I can't answer for myself, since I'm a California girl, but I do know that over the years we had many visitors from other parts of the country who had never had a whole fresh artichoke (as opposed to canned or marinated artichoke hearts).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Artichokes were common in early American vegetable gardens and at the dining table dipped in melted butter; they had been introduced to England in the 1500s and they were popular.

    2. I ate them growing up in Montreal ... we dipped the leaves in a vinaigrette. I dont think many people ate them though. However, I do see them everytime I go to the grocery store now ( they are in season).

        1. re: DagingKuda

          And no. Frankly, I grew up eating very few fresh vegetables as my mother really didn't like to cook.

          Canned corn, canned peas, canned green beans and fresh carrots, with the occasional iceberg lettuce salad, constituted our veg rotation.

          But we eat artichokes pretty frequently in season, just had them on Sunday!

        2. If you are of Italian heritage, I would have to say yes. And often. Jarred and frozen hearts for everyday of course, but fresh whole ones will be on the table on Sundays and holidays; baked with a bit of stuffing and cheese between the leaves. We affectionately call them "carciofo" (Italian for artichoke).

          They grow all over southern Italy from what I'm told. A staple in Sicily. In Rome they deep fry the whole artichoke, and that is a special treat. Here in NY you will always find them in the produce section year round. They even have those cute "baby" ones available for holidays.

          2 Replies
            1. re: coll

              Yep, you have it exactly right. We ate them this way. Upstate NY in the 1970s.

            2. I was raised in the South and never had one until I was an adult. In my 20's artichoke dip became popular which introduced me to the jarred and canned products, I never saw fresh artichokes in my local grocery stores until I was in my late 30's.

              You Californians have had such a tremendous array of food options! Glad we are at a point in time where there are so many choices in most areas.

              2 Replies
              1. re: meatn3

                ^ This, almost exactly.

                My Dad grew up near DC and was familiar with a huge array of produce and ethnic foods.
                Mom was raised hardscrabble Appalachian, and she was both the cook and the shopper. She had broccoli for the first time in college in 1961.

                Artichokes, were, then, something that Dad mentioned but not something we ever ate.
                The rise of "Spinach Artichoke DIp" was morphed into a sort-of creamed-spinach dip for us.

                I purchased my first artichoke when I was "out of the house" [although I may have been in college still] at a Fresh Market-type place, to be steamed and eaten with butter and salt. Loved it.

                Now I like them, alot, but "forget" that they can be included in the veg rotation.

                1. re: meatn3

                  Agreed. Not found in the midwest when I was a girl.

                  In the 60s.

                2. Yes

                  In Iowa. Fresh artichokes. Lemon. Melted butter.

                  1. First, thanks for the thread Thinking about my early artichoke days has brought back some fond memories - not the least of which is the fact that back in those days they were bigger and "meatier" than what's being offered now. Anyway........
                    Yes, grew up in NJ and they were considered a special treat for our family as well. They were never served with anything other than a butter, lemon, and salt "dipping sauce".
                    No dividing the hearts in our house, we each got a whole one.

                    I liked them so much that I would often make unauthorized stops at the local market while walking to school and use my lunch money to buy a jar of the marinated version. - Wasn't as good as "the real thing", but at least I could get some Bazooka Joe with the change.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                      WOWWWW, A whoooole one?!! what a lucky camper were you!
                      Well, just to show how people can be so divided between good and bad habits>>when i finally left home and could shop for myself in college, what was i most thrilled to purchase? why French's canned onion rings, of course- i could finally eat as many as i wanted! :-}
                      Though i've morphed that into artichokes now.whew

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        LOL, yes I was lucky. ;-)
                        Not that I would do it, but maybe you could try a choke stuffed with French's onion "bits".

                    2. Another East Coast 'hound with childhood memories of stuffed artichokes at the table of an Italian family. Not mine, however. These were made by the Grandmother of my best friend and the impetus for more than a few "Mom can I stay at Stephen's for dinner?" phone calls. They were also a pretty de rigueur appetizer order at local red sauce joints.

                      1. Growing up in Virginia, I was never served a whole artichoke until I was an adult.

                        1. Grew up in New Orleans. Ate them boiled with various dips and stuffed. Basic stuffing was stale French bread crumbs, olive oil, Parmesan, Italian parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper. Stuffing often augmented with shrimp, crab or oysters. A pinch of stuffing was placed between each petal. Oftentimes the choke was removed and the cavity filled with shrimp, crab meat or oysters with some butter. The artichokes were parboiled to facilitate stuffing and/or removing the choke, topped with bread crumbs and butter and baked until tender, If the stuffed artichokes were accompanying a pasta meal, tomato gravy was ladled atop the "chokes" in the oven. Most of the 'Saint Joseph Altars would have stuffed artichokes on Saint Joseph day. Personally, I have determined {to my satisfaction} that the best indicator to the quality of the choke (meatiness, tenderness, size of the heart, taste) Is the thickness of the stem.Thick stem=good choke, spindly stem=not so good choke. i prefer the pear shaped choke over the ones that are more globular.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mudcat

                            wow, that is all really fascinating, esp because my dad was born there in '22, a very poor adoptive mother, and no ethnic food i ever heard about. (I do remember him describing his typical school lunch being a hollowed out baguette coated with margerine and caro....!)oysters and crab? how interesting. what era? and when did your grandparents come over?( I guess I've read alot about the early settlement of LA but not the recent 100 yrs.)

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              A little more than the last 100 years. Sometime in the later 1800s and the very early 1900s.

                          2. I grew up in NJ and learned to make blender hollandaise so I could have a steamed artichoke for a snack when I came home from junior high softball practice.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: small h

                              wow, now that is a real gourmand in the making! did you read Gourmet then too?

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                Nah. I don't even read Gourmet now. I liked to cook when I was a kid, but it wasn't my only diversion. There was General Hospital to be watched and Asteroids to be played.

                            2. Yes, in the 50's and sixties we had artichokes weekly in NYC. Steamed with lemon butter, though then and now I prefer them plain.
                              It must have been a huge artichoke to share amongst 4; we each had one .

                              1. I've still never eaten one. I mean, I've had the hearts, but never a whole artichoke. Have never been anywhere anyone was serving them, at home or in a restaurant. Grew up in Ohio.

                                1. "It might choke Arty but it won't choke me" (name the quote)

                                  Yes, in my mostly Italian household in New Jersey stuffed artichokes are a holiday staple.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                    Quoth Stymie, of the Little Rascals/Our Gang.

                                    1. re: Tonality666

                                      Winner Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!! And a stuff artichoke to keep it on topic!!

                                  2. i grew up in a suburb of cleveland. i've been eating artichokes my old life. stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese, and garlic.... italian style.

                                    1. After watching Julia Child cook them on "The French Chef" one afternoon, Mom searched Pittsburgh so we could try them.

                                      Love them to this day.

                                      1. Yes, usually with lemon and melted butter, sometimes hollandaise. They were a bit of a treat because sometimes the large ones cost upwards of $4 each. I recall one in an Italian restaurant with a spicy sausage/bread stuffing between the leaves that was ambrosia. They are fun to eat with lobsters with melted butter for both. Makes for a long, pleasant meal.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          Just the other day while I was grabbing a few for 99¢ each, I was pondering at what price demand drops to the floor. Having grown up on fresh artichokes we'd buy in big bags on trips to Carmel/Monterey, I personally start to balk at $2 if they look small and scrawny.

                                          1. re: RelishPDX

                                            I love in NorCal and they can run $4 each.

                                            Grew up in Atlanta but did have them as a young adult there. With mayo perferably.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              as my VA mom used to say, "Ah yes, the good ol' South, where they just loooove crackers on their mayonnaise..."

                                        2. Nope. Grew up in WI, now in MN and I still just don't care for them.

                                          But since I learned to like brussels, there is hope for me

                                          1. Definitely not. I grew up in The Bronx, NY on (mostly) canned veggies (thankfully, spinach and broccoli were the frozen exceptions). I never had a steamed artichoke until I was out on my own. Frankly, I didn't understand what all the fuss was about, and haven't had one since.

                                            1. I'm in Pennsylvania, age 63, and had my first artichoke (with Hollandaise) when I was about 10. It was at a restaurant north of the New Hope, PA/ Lambertville, NJ area on the Delaware River with a spectacular view. Dad gave me a tutorial of how to remove the leaves, dip in sauce and extract the tender end with my front teeth. He then helped with removing the spiny core until we got to the heart. Cut into pieces and dipped in Hollandaise, I was in heaven and a fan ever since.

                                              P.S. If I'm mistaken, please forgive but I recall that the Delmonico brothers first brought them here in the 1840s for their New York restaurant. However, they maybe had to make their way west to more productive growing clime.

                                              1. We had a similar thread a few years ago in which the story came up that the first artichoke crop in America was in Louisiana. This is what I always heard and there weer farms in St Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes into the XX Century. Obviously artichokes were well known in New Orleans before they were heard of most other places. They were on restaurant menus in the 1950s, just steamed and sevred with hollandaise or lemon butter. You can still find the stuffed ones all over the place.
                                                \In the early 1960s, apart from New Orleans, the only time I ever saw artichokes was in the Northeast when a hostess wanted to have something exotic and even then they were not wildly popular. There was a specific method for extracting the fuzzy part with elegance, and also for discarding the leaves in an organized manner--I never mastered this. Apart from some high-end dinner parties I gather artichokes were confined to the Italian/Sicilian areas. Ciro Terranova, a famous mobster, became known as The Artichoke King in 1930s NYC for marking them up a helluva lot. mayor LaGuardia famously instituted a ban on sale or possession of artichokes to crack the stranglehold.

                                                I have some plants in my garden this year to see what will happen. Never raised them before.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                                  Hazelhurst. Do you remember the Solari's Delicatessens back home? I would often go there after work and pick up a stuffed artichoke to eat on the streetcar on the way home. The conductors never minded the roasted peanut shells on the floor of the car but frowned on artichoke leavings, had to put them in the bag they came in. Simpler times back then.

                                                  1. re: mudcat

                                                    Solari's where Mr B's now is. They had a basement(!!!) Hogsheads of goodies. If you ordered by mail they'd give change in stamps.

                                                    Clem Hurstel's wife used to make terrific stuffed artichokes down at the bar on St. Claude..("The Bridge is 'up': you have time for one more...."). And the propeller from the airplane that flew the first airmail in LA, New Orleans to Pilottown....

                                                    1. re: hazelhurst

                                                      Wish I had that model of the Biloxi Lugger that hung above Hurstel's bar.

                                                      1. re: mudcat

                                                        Gotta wonder what happened to all that stuff. The sign over the door would be worth having.

                                                  2. re: hazelhurst

                                                    Just FYI they are highly susceptible to earwigs. The earwigs actually burrow into and move around inside the stalks, so they're not always visible unless you .look carefully.

                                                  3. Have been eating them since I was a child. My Grandmother and Mother steamed them with olive oil, garlic and parsley. My wife stuffs and bakes them. We love them all ways. Our favorite veggie.

                                                    1. Growing up in west Texas, never once did I have them, although my mom did occasionally offer store-bought artichoke heart from a glass jar. As a bit of a vegaphobe in my younger days, I was never tempted.

                                                      Nowadays I would very much like to try artichoke leaves dipped in a lemon vinaigrette. It looks pretty appetizing.

                                                      1. i grew up in PA. No artichokes. Then I moved to Southern California. Artichokes w/either melted butter or mayonnaise for dipping (I preferred mayonnaise).
                                                        Then I married into an Italian family and there were and are stuffed artichokes.
                                                        I love them; my kids love them.

                                                        1. Yes. Grew up in Northwest NJ. Fresh steamed with mayo was very common when they were in season. And as a quick dinner my mom makes a heart based pasta sauce.

                                                          1. Yes. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Jewish, several generations post-immigration from eastern Europe. Occasionally we would have artichokes as our dinner vegetable, with melted butter. I'd eat the leaves, but got grossed out by the choke and handed over the "artichoke butt" to my dad for him to extract and eat the heart.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: truman

                                                              I was the same as a kid. In hindsight I think my mom purposely didn't help us clean off the fuzzy hairs so that she would get them.

                                                              1. re: viperlush

                                                                Bob grew up in Reno where artichokes were common. His parents laughed cause he only liked the leaves not the heart. Unfortunately for me, he's changed.

                                                            2. Not at all. I didn't discover them until the late '70s, when I was about 20. I took to them at once.

                                                              1. They were a treat at the Great-Uncle and Great Aunt Yabai household. We'd eat them steamed (or maybe boiled?) with a mustard vinagrette, saving the best for last. We'd each get one, and there would be a couple extra we'd fight for to the death. I used to have more brothers and sisters but the Artichoke Wars decimated the family.

                                                                My great uncle had a farm, and he started by planting tomatoes, but the ranch hands would eat them so he planted artichokes instead since the ranch hands had no idea what they were. We'd get sacks of the stuff during harvest season and we'd eat artichokes as often as we could get away with.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                                  i am groaning with envy ! but you didn't say where, or when?

                                                                2. Yes, my family is Italian-American from NYC

                                                                  they show up on the table in a number of ways - braised as an antipasto or side - in pasta dishes etc but on holidays they were usually breaded and stuffed. -never a holiday table without them.

                                                                  1. Nope - raised in WA state. Never had one until I was in my 20s.

                                                                    1. Yes, well not me but my mother loved them. She grew up in Philadelphia and my grandmother is from Virginia. I'm not sure why I never ate them, but the rest of my family did.

                                                                      1. I ate them growing up. I'm a military brat so can't really claim 1 area but it wasn't CA. My mom and dad were both from NJ.
                                                                        We always ate them with lemon mayo. Funny, I don't recall how we dealt with the heart.
                                                                        Loved and Love them now

                                                                        1. yes, very much so. Both stuffed and plain.

                                                                          Of course right now my favorite way is steamed and dipped into good Wisconsin butter.

                                                                          1. opinionatedchef, do you mean to tell me that a family of four SPLIT an artichoke?

                                                                            Since I'm a born and raised Californian, I'm specifically outside the target demographic of the OP, but I like sharing the story of an old boss, who grew up in St. Louis. He moved to California while in his mid-20s, and in his first week on the job, his boss took him out to lunch. He saw artichokes on the menu, but he'd never had one before, and thought he'd order one as a side dish. When it came, he looked at this whole steamed artichoke sitting on its own plate, and thought, "How in the hell am I supposed to EAT this???"

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: ricepad

                                                                              There is a similar story from WWII about the "little things" one can do to an occupying army (e.g.starch the underwear). A French family served artichokes to Wermacht troops billeted with them, knowing the troops wouldn't know how to eat them. The Germans, described as young, nervous kids really, ate the whole thing "to be polite" even though they were the occupiers. I've seen that tale in various styles over the years/

                                                                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                                My mom grew up in a farming community in central California. When she was young, her dad took in 2 boarders from Japan. This is probably back in the 30's. The two guys went to some restaurant and for some reason ordered or received the artichoke as part of their meal. They said they peeled off all the leaves and since they hadn't a clue what to do with what they had, they finally asked their waiter who laughed but explained the eating procedure. Growing up we always used mayo with our cooked artichokes.

                                                                                1. re: Feed_me

                                                                                  We had my parents over for dinner and I made artichokes. They had eaten artichoke hearts before, but this was their first time with a whole choke. My father got down to the small interior leaves. I told him to pull them off to get to the heart. I went back to my artichoke and a little bit later I heard him say "It's like eating cat hair."

                                                                              2. re: ricepad

                                                                                yes, one. now is that blessed and deprived at the same time, or what?!

                                                                              3. I grew up in Mississippi. My family ate them a few times growing up -- with melted butter.

                                                                                1. Yes! Artichokes were probably my favorite [non-dessert] food when I was a kid. Grew up in Rhode Island in the 70s and 80s, not of Italian heritage myself but surrounded by Italian Americans. Stuffed artichokes were common on restaurant menus, and steamed whole ones with melted butter for dipping the leaves were a special occasion treat at home, as they cost $3-4 a piece.

                                                                                  1. East Coast. Never heard of them through the 60s and 70s.

                                                                                    1. Yes. Raised in Indiana. Had them starting in the late '50's, early '60's. Liked them, still do.

                                                                                      1. I remember eating them somewhat often when we lived in Arizona (ages 5-8) and probably Nevada (0-5). We ate them with melted butter, and I don't recall eating the heart. It's possible my mom and/or dad ate them....

                                                                                        We didn't eat them much once we moved to Virginia. I'm going to guess that they are more expensive here, and we were struggling financially at that point.

                                                                                        I've made them a total of once as an adult. I'm not sure if I did something wrong or what, but it wasn't enjoyable and I haven't tried again since. :|

                                                                                        1. I was raised in NH and artichokes are among my favorite 3 or 4 foods! I used to have steamed artichokes with roast chicken with instant gravy for my birthday and I LOVED having the artichoke with melted butter. I didn't know a whole lot of other families though that ate them in my neck of the woods. The NY Times just did a fried artichoke recipe for passover and we had them a few nights ago. Delicious.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: JeremyEG

                                                                                            Artichokes are great. Fried artichokes are possibly the best of all fried vegetables.

                                                                                          2. Excellent topic, OC!

                                                                                            I can't answer the original query since disqualified (native of California), but take my cue from your "haven't yet researched the history of artichokes in American cuisine..."

                                                                                            The reliable J F Mariani's American Food encyclopedia (new ed.) reports "The Spanish introduced the artichoke to California [in the period 1769-1821] but it was almost unknown to most Americans until well into the twentieth century, when its cultivation in the South and, principally, California (which now produces 100% of the U.S. commercial crop) gave the vegetable a popularity that today is equaled only in France and Italy."

                                                                                            Also "Sicilian importer and mobster Ciro Terranova of NYC cornered the California artichoke market" for an interval after WW1.

                                                                                            1. Sure, fried versions and "dip" versions. That's about it (from this Nor'east local).

                                                                                              1. Grew up in Michigan and yes, we ate artichokes - they were a special treat! My mother always served them with a mayo/mustard sauce for dipping, usually paired with flank steak. She didn't cook with canned hearts much, though - just the occasional fresh artichoke. There's nothing better than scraping off the leaves with your teeth!

                                                                                                ETA: I'm neither Italian-American nor Jewish.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                  wow, mustard mayo, REAlly? that's what my mom made too. called it "mock hollandaise".
                                                                                                  It is a staple in our frig; for artichoke hearts, baked potatoes, beef sandwiches of any kind. And My Love uses it instead of mayo on any sdwch he makes. I make mine with mayo, dijon and ball park mustard, tamari and a little lemon juice.

                                                                                                  did your mom make a flank steak that was cut in strips, rolled into a spiral, wrapped in bacon and marinated in italian salad dressing? (I'm asking cuz i'm imagining that the flank steak and mustard mayo ideas came from some magazine or book that maybe your and my mom both read......)

                                                                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                    My mom never rolled flank steak but she definitely marinated it in Italian salad dressing (Wishbone)! The mustard mayo sauce is still a favorite of mine - she always used regular yellow mustard, a pinch of sugar and some vinegar. I usually use a nicer mustard these days but the rest is the same!

                                                                                                2. Several times I had an appetizer special at Houston's in Addison, TX that was a grilled half artichoke, sliced lengthwise. Delicious, but when I'm into a good choke, I want a whole one! Their house smoked salmon appetizer is such a large portion I never left hungry, though.

                                                                                                  1. The next subpart to this question seems to be:

                                                                                                    If you aren't from California, are you Italian-American (or grew up in a community with lots of Italian-Americans) or Jewish?

                                                                                                    1. My DC-born mother loved the "exotic" jarred marinated artichokes, but fresh artichokes were completely foreign in our part of the world.

                                                                                                      1. Grew up on Long Island. Never ate a fresh one until moving to CA in the early 2000s.

                                                                                                        The Epicurean, an 1894 haute cookbook from the chef of NY's Delmonico's, has a seasonality chart. There are only two vegetables it lists as being available only from Europe--- cauliflower in the winter months, and artichokes all year round with no local season.


                                                                                                        Edit: Ruth, are Jewish style artichokes known to non-Italian Jews before recently?

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                          That is intriguing: I can't pull it up here & now but I'm sure we can find plenty of evidence of cultivate artichokes in Plaquemine Parish (and, I think, in those farms that were where the airport is now) in the 19th Centur.

                                                                                                          1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                                                            My mother and all her brothers and sisters were born in Plaquemine Parish (Buras and Empire). She missed being born at Ellis Island by a couple weeks. Good artichokes were easy to acquire in New Orleans. I wish that was the situation here. I grew four plants when living in the Tidewater area of Virginia, about two miles West of the Atlantic, with seeds brought over from France by a friend after a tour there. They produced four beautiful and delicious chokes. i believe the terminal choke at the top of the plant is always the largest one on the plant. Beautiful plants. Apparently the plants require a cool somewhat moist environment. Ate the hell out of them and avocados when living just outside San Diego. In Savannah, Ga I would buy them from the Farmer's Market by the flat, great chokes and dirt cheap.

                                                                                                            1. re: mudcat

                                                                                                              Yup, the Main choke, at the top, is the big one, then you get the offshoots. A friend on Camp Street in NOLA had a whole row on her back fence and always let a few go to flower just for the beauty of it. She also had as asparagus bed and sometimes I would be invited to dinner at the harvest. We'd each get three or four spears,,,,

                                                                                                          2. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                            Also from Long island and never knew they existed until my 20's (mid 80's. Irish parents so...

                                                                                                          3. I ate them (with a lemon/butter dipping sauce) during the 50's & 60's growing up in southern Connecticut.

                                                                                                            1. Nope. It took going away to an obscure private university in Palo Alto for me to discover the pleasure of artichokes.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                That's cos your university was really a farm!

                                                                                                              2. I grew up in New England and we ate them, usually stuffed, on special occasions. I preferred them steamed and dipped in butter. That was in the early '70s.

                                                                                                                1. I never ate an artichoke until I was an adult. We have them ocassionally, but not often. So far, he kids have declined. My two favorite vegetables are artichokes and asparagus.

                                                                                                                  1. Never had one until my first wife (of the Melted Butter persuasion) introduced us. This was in Alaska, and they were relatively expensive. When we moved down to CA it was hog heaven. Years later in Nashville there was a restaurant/club that offered a cold artichoke on their late night menu; that and an order of paté with crackers made a great late supper.

                                                                                                                    Trader Joe's has been selling great globe artichokes lately for 99¢ each (which is about what they were 40 years ago in Alaska!), and we've had them last week and last night. Steamed, with mayo and fresh lemon juice from our Meyers.

                                                                                                                    1. Yes. In Hawaii. We always had several dipping sauces including melted butter (sometimes garlic butter) and mayo. Yum.

                                                                                                                      1. Growing up on Long Island in New York with Greek immigrant parents from Greece and Cyprus, we enjoyed artichokes in the spring regularly. From the 1970's to today. Boiled whole and occasionally grilled whole, uncut over natural charcoal. We aren't melted butter dippers though. We dip in a lemon/olive oil emulsion seasoned with salt.
                                                                                                                        Sometimes classic Greek preparations of fresh artichoke hearts and sometimes paired with fava beans or peas.

                                                                                                                        I first tasted a 'stuffed' artichoke with a bread crumb stuffing and a side of melted butter in an Italian restaurant in the late 1980's. Good, but totally unnecessary.

                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                          OMG, gastro, that's just not FAIR!! that first photo makes me feel like the oyster eaters in the film Tom Jones!!

                                                                                                                          I'm prob 'the only one' on this board to cook them like this, but i cut off just the bottom of the stem so they sit flat in a saucepan tall enough for a lid to fit.* I fill the pot with 2" of liquid: 1/2 apple cider vinegar. 1/2 water,bring it to a boil and turn it down to medium so they cook 45 min-1 hr. , whenever the inside leaves pull out easily.(Check them frequently and adjust the heat or add liquid as needed. I have burned pots SO many times!!) The vinegar gives great flavor so i can eat the leaves plain, and then i eat the heart with a mustard mayo concoction i make.
                                                                                                                          * (i us an empty soda can to fill the space if i'm only cooking one, so the art. doesn't fall over.)

                                                                                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                                            I used to boil artichokes (actually a simmer) but I changed to steaming them. By steaming them there is less water running down my arm when scraping the leaves on my teeth.

                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                              yes, my method seems to be both simmering and steaming. i guess i've always thought that sitting in the cider vinegar water, they got more of that flavor than they would with just steam, but the simmer creates the steam which cooks the leaves.

                                                                                                                            2. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                                              Maybe instead of the soda can, perhaps you could flatten the top (something I didn't know about when I was a kid) and steam the solo choke "upside down" - somethig else I learned about later in life.

                                                                                                                            3. I'm from Western Canada. We grew up with them, but they were a special treat, as they tended to be quite expensive.

                                                                                                                              We each got our own, and had them with lemon parsley butter to dip the leaves in, and a bucket in the middle for the used leaves. They were boiled with a few whole peppercorns in the water, and we kids would have a contest for who found the most in their leaves.

                                                                                                                              My mom mentioned that her first experience with them was in the late 60s. She had a cookbook with a very complicated preparation method (clipping the leaves, scooping out the heart from the intact artichoke) and wasn't impressed.

                                                                                                                              I miss them now - I can get canned hearts, but have never seen fresh ones, even at the posh imported foods stores.

                                                                                                                              1. I shouldn't reply since i grew up in CA but feel i have to since it was just 30min away from watsonville- aka where all the artichokes grow.
                                                                                                                                We would drive through the fields where they grew and stop at the roadside produce stand between salinas and castroville to buy bags of the baby artichokes as well as the larger ones.
                                                                                                                                Always steamed, Best Foods mayo for dipping.

                                                                                                                                I moved to nyc 15+ yrs ago and the artichokes here are so sad and have brown spots and can be stupid expensive- i rarely see the fresh baby artichokes for sale. (I bring them back in my luggage from visits to CA!) I had never had jarred or frozen artichokes until i moved here.... Better than nothin' but really not the same....

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                                  I picked up an 8-pack of baby artichokes from the Union Square Trader Joe's two weeks ago for 4ish dollars. And Whole Foods and Union Market often have very nice-looking globes (albeit usually for more than I'm willing to pay). There's also a vendor at the Greenmarket who sells baby artichokes, if you want to buy local (they're not very good, though). So the situation here isn't all that bleak, although of course it's far from ideal.

                                                                                                                                2. My first artichoke was when I moved to California in the mid-70s: they were too exotic for my western NY non-Italian family. Now I live about 70 miles from Castroville, the heart of Artichokeland, and they're a staple: simply steamed and eaten plain, unless I make a quick mayo/garlic dip. I'm counting the days until the local farmers' market opens so I can get some baby chokes. They're the bud stage, and are so young they haven't developed the hairy choke yet so they can be deep-fried and eaten whole.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: tardigrade

                                                                                                                                    yes, the fried baby carciofi are what you see alot in rome. yum ola.

                                                                                                                                  2. It's my understanding that the big artichokes are the center flower buds, and the succeeding buds are those farther from the center with the smallest being the farthest from the center. I think that means the 'baby' artichokes will never get any larger even if they are left on the plant.

                                                                                                                                    A few years ago Trader Joe's sold the small chokes but I have not seen them since.

                                                                                                                                    1. Artichokes dipped in mayonnaise, or mayo with a bit of lemon and garlic, are my absolute favorite food - to the point where I've considered getting one in tattoo form! I am from California and associate them heavily with the state - to me, they are sort of an emblem of California along with palm trees, gold, bears, etc.

                                                                                                                                      I did not move to California until I was about ten, but my parents are both native Californians and we grew up eating them whole whenever we could get them in grocery stores. I remember looking forward to spring and fall when they would appear. We usually each got a whole one, and while sometimes they were a side dish, sometimes we just had artichokes for dinner with maybe another small salad or side. The process of unpeeling and dipping each leaf from an artichoke before reaching the wonderful, wonderful heart is such a joy. Sometimes my dad would give me his heart as well, knowing how much I liked them.

                                                                                                                                      Now that I live on the East Coast, I encounter lots of people who have never eaten a whole artichoke. I remember steaming one for myself one night and my roommate had no idea what it even was. He had only ever had the hearts marinated and canned (which I also enjoy, but only like 1/50th as much as a fresh artichoke).

                                                                                                                                      If you've never tried it, try drinking a glass of milk with an artichoke. The bitterness of the artichoke makes the milk taste sweet in the best way. And also look for Cynar, an Italian amaro derived from artichokes. Great in a negroni variation and other cocktails!

                                                                                                                                      1. It's my understanding that the big artichokes are the center flower buds, and the succeeding buds are those farther from the center with the smallest being the farthest from the center. I think that means the 'baby' artichokes will never get any larger even  if they are left on the plant. 

                                                                                                                                        A few years ago Trader Joe's sold the small chokes but I have not seen them since. 

                                                                                                                                        1. I grew up in California but never ate them growing up. I adore them now and we eat them at least monthly.

                                                                                                                                          Steamed and then grilled.

                                                                                                                                          1. We eat them as much as possible. At Berkeley Bowl West, four for 99 cents in the Bargain Corner!

                                                                                                                                            1. Fresh artichokes were one of my favorite things growing up in the Midwest (small town Illinois). I don't remember where my mother got them from, Chicago probably, as I don't remember then generally in supermarkets or by special order from my cousin's Italian food store but we had them once a month or so. Always a messy affair with everybody getting one and mom made sauces that we could dip them in and scrape off the edible part of the leaves before getting to the heart. My friends thought them the weirdest things imaginable, almost as weird as eating fresh avocados with some salt and lemon juice. By the time canned or frozen artichokes were readily available my friends only ate them in the ubiquitous artichoke, parmesan hot dip. I thought it sad. Sauces varied between a vinaigrette, Bearnaise, or warm lemon butter or when she served these on beef fondue night what ever sauce suited her fancy. We ate a lot of food from Gourmet magazine articles that only my family seemed to relish. My parents also travelled a lot without us kids and would bring home lots of ideas that mom would try to replicate. Getting the ingredients was always a challenge and I don't know how she did it in the days before the internet. Kudos to mom!

                                                                                                                                              1. It's interesting to read how many people mix mustard into their mayo, something I'd never heard of before, despite being a life-long artichoke eater.

                                                                                                                                                Last night was also the first time that I used vinegar in the boiling water, and liked the results. I may try different vinegars in the future.

                                                                                                                                                Even though I've also been a life-long Best Foods mayo guy, last night's choke confirmed for me that my recent switch to the new formula of Kraft was a good choice. I'll have to play around with adding a bit of mustard to it.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: RelishPDX

                                                                                                                                                  <<"...many people mix mustard into their mayo.">>

                                                                                                                                                  I do this for my egg salad. Since sweet pickle relish doesn't enter our kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                  I do not do it for any other use though.

                                                                                                                                                2. Yes it was quite the thing in the 70s. Grew up in CT. The poor things were boiled to death though. I like using the microwave to steam them, so much easier and doesn't dilute the flavor. Then quarter them and grill on low heat. Made these a few weeks ago. Now I am in LA.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I'm 60 years old born and still live in Connecticut.
                                                                                                                                                    I've eaten marinated artichoke hearts since I was a child. I don't eat fresh artichokes and they were never served in the homes of any of my family or acquaintances. and they still aren't. Only my vegetarian niece in law from the midwest eats them

                                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                      Bagel, I encourage you to try one! They are fun and tasty.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                        I tried them 40 years ago in Low Angeles and didn't like them

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                        Wow, if I had taken that attitude I'd have missed so many, many things. I'm 67.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                          Didn't say I never tried them. Said I don't eat them.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                            Wow, it's been 40 years! Might want to give it another try :) There were loads of things I didn't eat when I was 20 that I LOVE now.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                              actually....40 years ago was my first try.
                                                                                                                                                              I have tried them since and still don't like them.

                                                                                                                                                              Every year there are certain foods I taste to confirm that I still don't like them or maybe my taste has changed.

                                                                                                                                                              Summer 2013:
                                                                                                                                                              Native Tomatoes Blechhh
                                                                                                                                                              Artichokes Yukkkk
                                                                                                                                                              Yogurt No way
                                                                                                                                                              Sour Cream Ditto
                                                                                                                                                              Cottage Cheese Ditto
                                                                                                                                                              Peaches Now acceptable if native

                                                                                                                                                              this summer, I'll try again. About 15 years ago asparagus went from yukk to yum

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                What are "Native Tomatoes" please? I've gotten to the point that non-local asparagus is pretty much off my list.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                  Local in season..not hothouse or shipped thousands of miles.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                  No sour cream? How did you ever eat a dairy meal? I thought it was sacrilegious to have sour cream on latkes and blintzes....
                                                                                                                                                                  My great grandmother would tell you to "try it tottie, you might like it" (LOL)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                                                                                    40 years ago when I got my first apartment I had an all fleischiges (meat) kitchen. I drink my coffee black and almost never have a dairy meal in. It was only when I married the first Mrs. B and we bought a house that we had both meat and dairy equipment. I cooked all the meat meals, and she cooked the dairy

                                                                                                                                                        2. nope, didn't have artichokes growing up, which was in s.w. florida on the gulf coast. didn't have one (iirc) until i had one at a french restaurant, and learned really quickly why they call it a "choke" (as i didn't know not to eat the fuzzy part). -- LOL.

                                                                                                                                                          now, i adore artichoke anything!

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                            I would advise anyone who is eating their first artichoke, (take note, bagelman) to do so with someone who is familiar with how to do it - they are a bit tricky.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                              wow, you must have more dramatic weather-filled stories than most of us combined! alka, did you grow up eating merlotons? i've never had one, i don't think, and have always wondered if they had much flavor.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Growing up just outside NYC, we always had artichokes on the table for every holiday dinner. Stuffed to the ends of the leaves with breadcrumbs and cheese. I love lemon added to them and a bit of anchovy paste.

                                                                                                                                                              And I always have cans & jars of artichokes in my pantry all the time. Never know when friends will drop by and hot cheesy artichoke dip can be made in a snap!

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                                                                                                                                                i don't know if you have a nearby TrJoe's, but their frozen artichoke hearts are a freezer staple for me. Much better/'purer' tasting than canned or marinated.

                                                                                                                                                                anchovies yummmm; do you mean IN the cheese mixture?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                                                                                  Love Trader Joes - thank you - will definitely try their frozen artichoke hearts.

                                                                                                                                                                  Yup - the anchovy is in the cheese/breadcrumb mixture for the stuffed artichokes. I sautee it a little in olive oil (it almost disolves) and then add it to the mixture and stuff away!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                                                                                    A freezer staple for me as well. Just throw a handful in to a saute pan with some garlic and butter and the herb of your choice, and you have something you can serve with chicken, toss with pasta, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                2. I grew up in NYC and the 'burbs. My folks never once bought artichokes. I saw one for the first time when I was over at a friends house when I was in3rd grade. They didn't offer any to me. I first had them when I was around 12 and living in the 'burbs and got them at an Italian deli, the tangy ones in oil and vinegar. The first whole cooked one was when I bought and made one myself when I was around 14 after reading about them in a food magazine at the library.

                                                                                                                                                                  That was also when I first subscribed to food magazines, to improve my cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                  I only cook them a few times a year, but get the Italian ones in oil several times a month.

                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                    a local italian store here in arlington, virginia has the young artichokes in some brine (i guess oil, too) (someone brought them to a party). boy are they easy to eat! YUM.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                      ha,J! you hot ticket you! teach those folks some new tricks! that's about when i started reading Gourmet; a neighbor gave me all her used ones.

                                                                                                                                                                      p.s. sorry i don't know if you're a guy or a girl, but if you're a guy, you might esp. enjoy a Greek film i just saw called A Touch of Spice (our local MA libr has it). Only film i've ever seen about a young boy's passion for cooking. While the other boys were playing sports at recess (in Istanbul in the 50's) he was playing 'Tea and cake' with the girls. He was encouraged by his delightful spice merchant grandfather who he revered.


                                                                                                                                                                    2. Yes in the 1960's in can or a jar...never fresh...lived in NYC

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Wonderful thread! I grew up, in Manhattan, eating them and my grandmother even had artichoke plates (large plates shaped like a flattened artichoke with a center indentation for melted butter). However, I still consider them a treat.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I grew up eating them and there are pics to prove it. :) My Mom worked for Poloroid when we were little and there are pics of *everything.* We look 3-4 years old when they introduced us to artichokes, from the garden, in AZ. Lemon butter and homemade mayo for dipping.

                                                                                                                                                                          We just had some a couple of nights ago from Trader Joe's- huge and beautiful, for 99 cents each.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Grew up in Illinois, never had them as a kid. Moved to CA in 1982 and a friend there introduced me to them. Just steamed and dipped in mayo. I worked for an Italian from MA who's wife taught me how to stuff them with bread crumbs, garlic & grated parmesan.

                                                                                                                                                                            I love them!!! A few weeks ago Sprout's here in TX had gorgeous ones for 2/$1, so I pigged out on them. I'll either stuff them or just steam them and dip in garlic mayo.

                                                                                                                                                                            I also like the canned or jarred non-marinated ones. Always have them on hand.

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                                                                                              Barbara, you and others mention canned and jarred. You're talking about hearts, right? Just want to clarify.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                                                    Oops, I'd forgotten about the bottoms. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                                                      Bottoms are my ultimate favorite, I can only find them in one store that is on the border of Queens NY unfortunately. I stock up a couple of times a year, and stuff them with crab or lobster salad for company. Thanks for reminding me, I'm out right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                        Canned or jarred bottoms - I wonder what happens to the rest of the artichoke?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                          Frozen artichoke hearts and bottoms are wonderful. Much close to fresh than canned. Slice bottoms or semi-thawed hearts thinly and use in salads. or Cook the hearts in a red sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: AdinaA

                                                                                                                                                                                            Generally speaking, I think most frozen vegetables are better than canned.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                                                                                                            Razzano in Glen Cove, up by the hospital. They have the best prosciutto too!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh yes, been there many times...my problem, is that I always end up buying more than I should....not that I don't like it or it gets wasted...soooo good. Live just down the road in Country Estates..

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                                                                                                                Glad I only get there once or twice a year; I have my shopping list down pretty good. I usually also stopped at Fairway in Plainview on the way back east, but there is one opening by Smithaven mall any day now, so I am biding my time to see if they have the bottoms instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Since they went public, it is not the same...(that is Fairway)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I know the prices doubled, that's for sure. Where they're opening is right down the block from Trader Joe and Whole Food, and a few blocks from the awesome Oriental Store. So I will have to pop in for a few goodies since we are in that area every month or two. No shopping malls for me, only the good stuff!

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Growing up in NJ, I don't recall that I ever encountered them for my first 20 years. In 1967, I ate them at a friends house in Redwood City CA on my way to SEA. Melted butter, lemon, and some kind of dip, I liked them well enough. I don't know why, but I've never eaten them that way since. Oysters Dunbar at Corrine Dunbar's in NO (early 80's) featured artichokes. One of the best dishes I ever had.

                                                                                                                                                                                    *****Note to self- Eat more artichokes!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Grew up in deepest white-bread Connecticut in the 1960s. Mom wasn't an adventurous cook or an adventurous eater, (apple pie, roast chicken, New England boiled dinner, Welsh rabbit). Whole steamed artichokes were a frequent first course. Each of us was given a small dish of melted butter to dip in. Didn't discover that there was any other way to eat artichoke - or even anything else to dip one in - until long after I had grown up.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Still amazed by how many people have never eaten one.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: AdinaA

                                                                                                                                                                                        "Still amazed by how many people have never eaten one."

                                                                                                                                                                                        My step mother is a painter and did 2 large canvases that were of sections of food items- one a cross section of an artichoke, the other the inside of a pomegranate. They were hanging in our studio when I worked for her. It was interesting to see who immediately knew what they were and who didn't and where the person was from- all of the West Coast people knew instantly and few of the East Coast people did.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I grew up in Oklahoma in the 80s and my family had them often. Whole steamed artichokes with hollandaise or melted butter for dipping were a favorite. My family definitely ate much more adventurously than most for our time and place because my parents liked to travel and cook. I think many of my friends were introduced to artichokes and other "exotic" foods by having dinner at my house.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. god, now i want a stuffed artichoke like you read about.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I've restrained from adding to this thread since I am a native of CA. But my late husband was from Texas.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I still remember when he took me "home" to meet his mother. We spent the morning crabbing on the TX Gulf Coast.

                                                                                                                                                                                            That evening's meal: the boiled crabs we had harvested and whole steamed artichokes. Slices of lemon and melted butter in little ramekins. All served on a newspaper-covered table dockside.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I didn't grow up (NY girl) eating artichokes..I'm still not into eating them much with the exception of in a dip

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Heck, no! I never saw or ate one until I was in college. New Englanders don't cotton much to weird veggies from outer space. Can't get enough of them now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I did not grow up eating them (east coaster) - however the spinach artichoke dip at Whole Foods is unbelieveable...not sure how much actual artichoke is in it but it's damn good!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Wow, who knew? I just found out that The VA Housewife Cookbook- of 1838- includes recipes for Artichoke!! (and, OT, but also for Jerusalem Artichokes/sunchokes, which are native to NE No.America-New England up into Quebec.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here's the recipe from 1838!
                                                                                                                                                                                                    < ARTICHOKES.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    SOAK them in cold water, wash them well, then put them into plenty of boiling water, with a handful of salt, and let them boil gently till they are tender,
                                                                                                                                                                                                    View page [105
                                                                                                                                                                                                    ]which will take an hour and a half, or two hours; the surest way to know when they are done enough, is to draw out a leaf; trim them, and drain them on a sieve, and send up melted butter with them, with some put into small cups, so that each guest may have one.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                    (and here's the Jerusalem Artichoke recipe):
                                                                                                                                                                                                    < JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES,
                                                                                                                                                                                                    ARE boiled and dressed in the various ways we have just before directed for potatos. They should be covered with thick melted butter, or a nice white or brown sauce.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Yes, with melted butter or lemon mayo, often homegrown in WA. And always a stop at the Giant Artichoke in Castroville if we were in the area on summer vacation!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I still wear this old thing. I think it's from 1989.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Yes, I grew up eating them. My mother would make my sister and I share them. I was so glad to not have to share when I grew up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Rather than search for where price was referred to I thought I'd just attach this photo from today. This wasn't WF or our food co-op or any boutique-y market. Just my Latino market who's prices are generally better than the big chains. FOUR DOLLARS (here in NorCal)!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've been paying $1.99/globe artichoke up here in Canada. Noticed on my last trip to California that you guys are paying what I'm paying for California produce, which isn't right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: prima

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not just artichokes - a lot of California-grown produce is more expensive here then in other places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's an expensive place to live: some stores actually pay decent wages, and the cost of property, utilities, insurance has to be factored in as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Yes. The fresh ones, the canned ones and the marinated ones

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. i grew up in Jersey and had artichokes just once growing up, at a friend's house. I moved to the bay area in 1983 and then became very familiar with the.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Yes! Grew up in Dallas and ate them all the time, sometimes with melted butter, sometimes with lemon butter, garlic butter, sometimes with mayonnaise or mayonnaise with worcestershire sauce or Tabasco sauce, nothing fancy. Sometimes we (my mom) would cut the cooked (usually boiled) ones in half, take the chokes out, and we (my dad) would throw them on the grill alongside the steaks he was cooking. I still make them that way occasionally, but I usually brush them with garlic-infused olive oil and tuck some lemon slices under them before I grill them. Dad didn't.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                My best memory of artichokes was of a time when my kids were all in elementary school and a whole crew of their friends from the neighborhood were over, playing, and I had steamed a big pot full of artichokes for dinner (with the prickles trimmed off, maybe 8 or 10 big ones). When the kids found out I was making them, they all begged me to let them have them, so I threw a few beach towels out on the grass with a few big plastic bowls for the spent leaves and little cups of melted butter and set them loose on those artichokes! Some of the kids had never tried them before. When they got down to the chokes, they gave them back to me to clean and to cut up the hearts for them. They all loved them! I wouldn't be surprised if all those kids, now 25 or 30 years old, remember that day! It was so much fun to watch them enjoying something so much! I was glad I didn't save them for our dinner.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't buy artichokes as often these days, only a few times a year. The big fat ones with nice tight leaves are hard to find, even if I'd be willing to pay 4 or 5 dollars apiece for them. Central Market had some last year with, like, 8 inch (reportedly, edible) stems that looked so cool-but they were something like $12 each so I didn't buy them. I;ve never seen them again.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Several restaurants in Dallas/FW have them on their menus. My daughter and I shared one recently at Rise No.1 in Dallas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jilkat25

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The stems are definitely edible, they taste like the heart. Love them! Especially on pizza.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Agree. Can't imagine cutting them off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I usually don't find ones with much of a stem at my neighborhood grocery store, and since I go for the larger ones (sorry, don't know the name of the variety that is large and also has tender "meat"), I often peel the sides of the stem to remove that fibrous bark. The ones I saw at Central Market last year had stems that were 8 or 10 inches long and were of a variety that the store display promised had stems specifically for eating. I don't remember exactly where they were grown, but I vaguely remember them coming from outside the US, which could be part of the reason they were so expensive I only saw them that one time, and in fact, when I had almost completed my shopping that night, I went back to the section they were in and there were only a couple left. I regret not splurging on those last two. I wouldn't still be dwelling on why I didn't get them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jilkat25

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The do sell the heart with the stem still attached, packed in oil, if you just want to try some. There are numerous different brands out there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Thanks for all these posts of childhood memories of artichokes! My parents did serve them up once or twice, but they were rare enough to seem exotic (and not much was at our house, we ate a wide variety of foods) and I've never made them. My kids aren't big on veggies but they do appreciate butter and hollandaise! I think this will be something fun for us to try this spring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Yes, but my mother grew up in California. She was not a great cook, but she did steam artichokes and melt butter. I loved how milk tasted sweeter after I ate them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Yes, they were a treat. Always laugh with a friend of mine about how hungry the first folks to try them must have been, to eat this thorny thistle thing...And no doubt went thru how many iterations of prep before finding a way to make them edible

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Ate them from the time I outgrew sippy cups. Didn't everybody? Now I get 'em at Costco, four big ones for $5 and change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Be aware that there are now also artichokes, grown from seed, without thorns or spines at the leaf tips. Are they as tasty as the traditonal perennial kind? Depends on whom you ask. Supposedly the newest varieties are much improved. The ones introduced 15 years or so ago met with considerable consumer resistance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: emu48

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have rarely seen them with thorns here in Boston these last 40 years. In my catering business, I used to do an entree where i simmer/steamed them in cider vinegar and water til very tender, then i removed all the outermost little leaves, left the next 3 layers of leaves, and removed all the other leaves and the choke. I cut the stem off so they would sit flat, and stuffed the inside hollow area with a curried seafood salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For stationary hors d'oeuvre platters, I set out the leaves flat, in overlapping concentric circles to imitate a large mum, with a bowl of mustard mayo in the middle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Some people 'got it' and some didn't, but when the plates were bused back to the kitchen, if the artichoke hearts were missing, I knew there were probably some very happy guests out there!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Didn't know anything about artichokes until the mid-1950's when this Washington state girl was living in a college dorm in CA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When the artichoke appeared on a plate in front of me, I did the obvious thing - I pulled off a leaf, popped it into my mouth and started chewing. And chewing. And chewing. Someone stopped laughing long enough to demonstrate the proper way of dealing with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I currently like them as large as possible, cold, and with a dip consisting of a combo of mayo and TJ.s goddess dressing.