i was just going to write a little post about artichokes when i checked mark bittman's blog to find a post about artichokes. the march issue of saveur had a great article about artichokes in which the author (david plotnikoff) summed up, more eloquently than i ever could, my childhood experiences with artichokes: "the big, meaty artichokes on my family table were served in an unpretentious style: steamed, pulled apart leaf by leaf, each leaf dipped in melted butter or best foods mayonnaise and pulled through clenched teeth to scrape away the flavorful flesh, until all that was left was the succulent heart." like the author, artichokes were commonplace on my family dinner table as a kid growing up in california. it wasn't until moving to the east coast that i realized how strange this strangest fruit really is. multiple times, when buying artichokes at the supermarket, i have been asked by the checker and other customers what they are and how are they cooked and eaten. they make me think of my mom and her obsession with best foods mayonnaise.
my cooking is pretty tame when it comes to preparing artichokes. though we eat them quite frequently, it is usually prepared as they are above. i do make this amazing turkey and artichoke stuffed shells that i can't get enough of. i substitute the ricotta for tofu, which i do in every recipe that calls for ricotta. its a great easy way to get some extra soy protein and i swear you can't tell the difference. i also prepare the recipe with whatever red sauce i feel like making. most recently we started buying big jars of marinated hearts at bj's and throwing them on pizza and in pasta.
the saveur article mentions that while most artichokes come from california there is a farm in maine that grows artichokes! four season farm in brooksville, me is run by barbara damrosch and eliot coleman. they have a farm stand that is open from 1-5 pm, Monday through Saturday, June 16 through September. it will definitely be on of my summer day trips to pick up some artichokes! and i am going to be adventurous and try some new artichoke recipes.