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Eating Thistles

September 29, 2017

Among my favorite things to eat are artichokes. I don’t know many people who enjoy them as much as I do. I notice that fancy TV chefs are roasting and stuffing them with all sorts of mixtures. My mother enjoyed them with butter but I go for mayonnaise, although these days I limit the mayo.


Artichokes originated in lands bordering the Mediterranean and were mentioned as far back as the 8th century BC. They can look formidable to the uninitiated. I’m always amused that, while eating one, the inedible parts grow and grow until there’s more left when finished than when you started.


When I was attending college at UCLA, I worked in our dorm kitchen washing dishes. One day I noticed all the plates coming back with untouched artichokes. I walked out into the dining room and asked a couple of students why they hadn’t eaten them.


One fellow said, “It looks dangerous, like a hand grenade, and I don’t eat hand grenades.”


Another said, “It’s just a prickly giant thistle. I don’t even know why they were served. Is this a joke?”


Castroville, California, is the self-proclaimed capital of artichokes. Our dorm was filled with students from the East Coast and it occurred to me that they might not be familiar with artichokes, not know how to eat them. I mentioned this to my supervisor, saying, “I think someone should give a demonstration on how to eat an artichoke.”


College is a place to learn, and that day I learned never to give a suggestion to a boss because they’ll select YOU to do it. That’s what my boss did.


So I walked to the front of the dining room where about a hundred students were eying the big thistles on their plates. I demonstrated how to remove the leaves and dip them in mayo. Of course the best part is the heart, which needs to be carefully extracted from the fibers. The medical students were better at this than the athletes. After my presentation, I noticed fewer artichokes coming back untouched.




Do you like artichokes? If so, how do you prepare them? Are there other odd foods you enjoy?





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To tell the truth I have never had one! They look formidable and not tasty. Also too much work for the little amount you get out of it, so, no, never bothered with it.
By: Linda on September 29, 2017
I don't think I've ever eaten an artichoke. It seems like lobster or crab where it's just a lot of work to get to the good part.
By: PT Dilloway on September 29, 2017
They're rather labor-intensive, so I don't usually eat them fresh unless someone else goes to the trouble to prepare them. Back in the day, I loved spinach/artichoke dip.
By: Kelly on September 29, 2017
One of my favorite vegetables!! Can you imagine how brave (or hungry) the first person to eat an artichoke was?
By: fishducky on September 29, 2017
I don't think I had one before but always game to try it. Glad you presented on how to eat one
By: Birgit on September 29, 2017
I've never tried to eat a whole one before, although like Kelly, I love spinach/artichoke dip.
By: The Bug on September 29, 2017
I have had spinach and artichoke dip but I have never had a whole artichoke. It never crossed my mind but I only get my veggies when they are on a pizza.
By: Mr. Shife on September 29, 2017
I grew up eating artichokes on a regular basis and I LOVE THEM! But I prefer them dipped in salted butter. When I met my husband, he'd never had one, but quickly learned to love them. I make a really yummy artichoke dip, too.....
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on September 29, 2017
Omg, I was raised on artichokes! We had them stuffed with breadcrumbs, garlic and parsley and boiled (my fav). My aunt used to parboil them and finish off in the oven. Yet another aunt stuffed and boiled them but finished them off under the broiler after adding a splash of Pernod. The hearts make a wonderful soup when simmered with asparagus and garlic. If you need recipes, just ask an Italian!
By: Gloria on September 29, 2017
Artichokes are almost as delicious as Brussels sprouts! Now i'm hungry again.
By: messymimi on September 29, 2017
almost fifty years ago, as a transplant from California to Massachusetts, I served artichokes as a first plate on a westcoast dinner that also included a Mexixan hot dish. One of my guests, a tentative eater, looked at the artichoke and said, "I not eating this. I have heard that you can actually choke on the choke." I ate his serving. I didn't choke, but a probably gain ed a few ounces on the butter.
By: JO Barney on September 29, 2017
I think I'll need your demonstration before I get to like artichokes.
By: REd on September 29, 2017
Never had one. I don't know how to eat them. If it's messy, I'd rather not try.
By: Val on September 29, 2017
I've only had artichoke once, many years ago. Ate it with melted butter. I remember enjoying it, but not enough to warrant the effort involved. Give me an avocado any day, preferably stuffed with shrimp :)
By: Botanist on September 29, 2017
Never had artichoke, mostly because I don't know how to cook it! I do eat edamame and kohnrabi, two things I didn't grow up with but love now.
By: jenny_o on September 29, 2017
We did not encounter artichokes until later in life. I love them steamed and with just a wee bit of a dip and I mean just a teeny little bit so as not to crowd out the taste of the artichoke. The idea of serving them in a college dining room is mind blowing, but then we were a long way from California.
By: Tom Cochrun on September 30, 2017
yep, in fact we had one for dinner just the other night though I've never understood stuffed artichokes.
By: Ellen Abbott on September 30, 2017
Nope, never! I put artichokes on the same list as avocados...the Nope, Never! list. Call me a picky eater.
By: Terri@Coloring Outside the Lines on September 30, 2017
I love artichoke hearts. Whole artichokes? No thanks. The idea of scraping a leaf with my teeth and then putting the teeth-scraped leaf back on my plate, blech! How do I prepare them? Don't be ridiculous. That would be cooking.
By: Mitchell is Moving on September 30, 2017
Only ate one once. What I remember was the dipping sauce which was so amazing, I would have eaten cardboard dipped in it. Kind of like escargot--- the sauce made it,
By: Arkansas Patti on September 30, 2017
Hah! I just finished demolishing a huge artichoke....good timing! I love them- roasted grilled or just plain steamed with mayo please!
By: Kathe W. on September 30, 2017
I can take them or leave them, but Cindy absolutely loves them, she mainly uses the melted butter to dip hers in, she actually just picked two up yesterday for herself. On a side note I had an artichoke plant that provided quite a few artichokes for her over the last six or seven years, the gophers took it out last season... may have to plant another for her.
By: Jimmy on October 1, 2017
I've never had an artichoke, but I'm open to trying one. I just don't know how to cook them. It looks very intimidating.
By: Pixel Peeper on October 1, 2017
I do like artichokes and don't eat them as often as I should. I dip them in butter! I also like the flowers in dried bouquets.
By: tabor on October 2, 2017
Never been on my plate... and I don't envision one in my future.
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 3, 2017

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