Artichokes are three types of vegetables in the daisy family Asteraceae. When unqualified, the term “artichoke” nearly always refers to the globe artichoke, of which the aboveground part is eaten, in contrast to the other two, Jerusalem & Chinese artichokes, where aÂ root part is eaten. The word artichoke is taken from the Arabic “ardy shuky,” meaning literally “my floor has thorns.”
The Globe artichoke is a perennial, thistle-like plant originating inÂ southern Europe around the Mediterranean.Â It grows to 1.5 – 2 meters in height with arching, silvery-green leaves.Â The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud with numerous triangular scales, the individual florets are purple.
Globe artichokes were first cultivated at Naples around the middle of the 15th century and are said to have been introduced to France by Catherine de Medici in the following century.Â The Dutch brought artichokes to England where they were growing in Henry VIII’s garden at New Hall in 1530.Â They were introduced to the United States in the 19th century, French immigrants brought them to Louisiana and the Spanish brought them to California.
Today the Globe artichoke is cultivated mainly in France, Italy & Spain.Â In the US, California provides nearly 100% of the local crop, with 80% of that grown in Monterey County.Â Castroville in Monterey County proclaims itself to be “The Artichoke Center of the World“.
Artichokes can be boiled, deep-fried, roasted, pickled and there are even some artichoke liqueurs around.Â But one of my favorite ways to enjoy this wonderful veggie, is through my own Luscious Spinach & Artichoke Dip.Â Stay tuned.