Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Childhood memory food

You know how there are things you used to eat when you were a kid but don't anymore? Either because they're really quite disgusting, or because eating pasta that's in the shape of the alphabet doesn't quite do it for you anymore. Well I used to eat a lot of different food growing up in France. Even though there are a lot of similar things now between France and the UK, and we're all part of Europe bla bla bla, I'd never eaten baked beans until I turned 23. That says a lot I guess.  And butternut squash, well the French don't really bother growing it, so I've discovered the joys of all these root vegetables that I didn't even know existed until recently. The flip side of that is that I used to eat stuff which simply isn't available here. Ok it might be if you go shopping in Harrods, but funnily enough, that's not my thing. Yeah, I'm funny like that.


So you'll never know how I felt when I saw someone selling globe artichokes at the market in Cambridge a couple of weekends ago. I know they're not that rare in the UK, but I can't find them in my local supermarket. And my local market certainly does not stretch to exotic fares such as the much loved artichoke. I say much loved because I absolutely LOVE artichokes. Mum used to prepare them quite regularly. We'd have them cold, as a starter, with some vinaigrette. You just can't beat it. So I didn't have to be told twice that it was ok to pay £1 per artichoke (it's not really, it's a rip off, but what can you do!). I got them all ready at home and I was so proud because actually, it's not that straight forward. You can't really tell if you've cooked it properly until you get to the middle, the part where you have to remove the hair to reveal the beautifully delicate heart.


Mine were spot on. Am I proud? Hell yes!! I'm afraid there are no photos of the hair and the heart because by that point, I was in total heaven, and I don't take cameras to heaven, sorry ;-)


So all I can say is this. If you walk past one of these beauties, jump at the opportunity to enjoy one, it's simply amazing. Each and every single leaf will be a culinary explosion. Or it might not for you, and I'm sorry if it's not your thing, but for me, this is the food of my childhood and I will forever cherish it.

11 comments:

The Girl said...

Hurray for childhood memories! We're all on one with that this week it would seem!

I've not had a lot of artichoke actually. Wouldn't know what the hell to do with it. I did have a spinach and artichoke dip once though and that was heavenly.

Also. I really want alphaspaghetti now you've mentioned it!

Dragonfly said...

I had some in my veg box back in the spring and they completely stumped me! Oh, the shame!

Diane said...

Ive only ever eaten these out of jars (as antipasta). I'll have to give them a go! xxxx

jane said...

i too have only had these as antipasti, and they're so delicious, i wish i weren't so scared to buy a fresh one and cook it. literally, i wouldn't have a clue what to do with it! perhaps you could post some instructions?!

Petit Filoux said...

Actually, it's dead easy! Although it does take a rather long time...
Basically, you have to snap off the stalk first - don't cut it off, snap it off with your hand
Then put the artichoke in a large saucepan, cover with water, add some salt (a generous pinch I guess) and boil for an hour or so - you'll know it's ready when you can pull off one of the bottom leaves without having to pull hard, it should just come off - some of mine had actually come off on their own!
Finally, drain the water, and place the artichoke on a plate, head down (stalk up) to stop any water collecting inside. Place in the fridge until ready to eat!
Voila!

ana said...

I've seen artichokes in healthfood shops (the ones that have a fancy veg display outside) and occasionally in supermarkets, although they're probably a week old by the time you buy them.
I think they're pretty easy to grow though. They're basically giant thistles and any flower buds you don't eat will make fantastic purple flowers.

Lizzy said...

I bought one earlier this year and was not very keen. I was told to steam it for 25 minutes, perhaps I did not cook it for long enough, also I ate it hot - you say you eat yours cold. I am going to grow them on the allotment next year, because they a big and look good and will block the view of my interesting neighbours!!!! If I don't like them again I will sell them.

Melanie said...

My mum has asked me what I want to eat when I'll go home in a few weeks and I should really tell her 'artichoke'! We used to have some on our table every other week when I was a child. We generally had it warm, with creme fraiche vinaigrette.

It's one of the rare things I can't seem to find here and that I'm desperate for!

Francesca said...

mmmm artichokes! thanks for popping by my blog, my husband ben is the obsessive book organiser!

ps love your knitted bedspread.

Christine said...

maybe it's a California thing but I use shears to snip the points off the leaves first. Artichokes are everywhere here. As far as childhood foods, I used to eat beef tongue sandwiches. After my grandmother had heart surgery and was told not to eat tongue, we never had it anymore. As an adult, I just cannot quite bring myself to try it again.

tschitschi said...

oh, I really didn't like artichokes as a kid, something about the way they looked and felt... but today I like them :)