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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.