Today, my principal came over to our lunch table and told us a joke. You know, the kind where it's clever but not very funny? One of those. Here it is: There was this guy named Art. He went out, and choked this guy to try and get his money. The guy only had 50 cents. He chokes another guy, and he only had 50 cents. The newspaper headline the next day? "Arty Chokes 2 for $1.00." Get it? Yeah, I do too. Cue awaked pity laughter.
Why the corny joke, you ask? My friend and I were discussing artichokes when he happened by. We have decided that there is no better way to eat them than straight up and dipped in melted butter. Yum! I had my first artichoke a few weeks ago at my grandparent's house, and it was good. I had another one lsat night, and plan on eating the leftovers today. When cooked, the thing looks (and smells) like a gym sock. But the taste? Epic. I don't think that my siblings will ever try one, but they should. Most people can cook an artichoke, but just in case you can't, here are my cooking and eating instructions:
1. Procure an artichoke
2. Get a large, wide-mouthed vessel with a lid (a.k.a pot), and fill with a few inches of water
3. Insert a steamer basket or what I call a "steamer thingy." Why do I call it that? Because it has a proper name but I don't know what it is. But it looks like the mutant child of a pot and a colander, and has handles, and fits inside your wide-mouthed vessel to use for steaming, draining, whatever. I recommend a steamer basket, but you can use whatever you want; the artichoke police won't come to your house and take it away.
4. Take your artichokes and snip off the little pointy things at the top of each leaf with a pair of shears. Use a big knife, and cut the stems off. According to Alton Brown, non-woody stems can be cooked along with the artichoke and are almost as good as the heart. I have not tried this, so if anybody wants to cook a few stems and tell me how they are, that would be awesome.
5. Arrange your artichokes (usually people do about 4 at a time) in the steaming device, pop on the lid, and put over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, or until tender.
6. Procure tongs.
7. Remove artichokes from vessel.
8. Prepare dipping substance. There is a large debate over the best dipping substances, but here are the ones I've seen:
Mayo + Mustard
Melted butter (in my opinion, this is the best one)
9. Eat :)
How to eat:
1. Lift leaf from artichoke
2. Dip in dipping substance
3. Hold so that the leaf is curving down (if you put it on your plate it looks like a little tunnel and not a half pipe).
4. While maintaining curve, place leaf on your bottom teeth, and slowly drag across to scrape off the white stuff and dipping substance.
5. Repeat for pretty much every leaf. When you get to the point where there are only a few leaves left and there is a cone-like shape, stop! Because the humble artichoke is, as are many foods, a flower-bud. And inside? A flower. Cut into it, and you will see the fuzzy part appropriately called the "choke." As my grandfather says, "If you eat it, you will indeed choke." Cutting into this, of course, is purely for science.
6. What you should do is grab the base of the leaf-cone, and twist off. This will leave you with a small disk with a white thingy on top. This has got to go. Get a butter knife (or, now that I think about it, a grapefruit spoon) and cut around the white thing. This will reveal some fuzzy stuff, which you must also remove.
7. After all that labor, you get a grey disc. This is the holy grail of artichoke fans everywhere, and it is essentially the concentrated form of the stuff that you have been scraping off the leaves. Slice it up, dip in dipping substance, and savor. Because if you don't savor it, you need to disassemble another one.
Of course, you can always cheat and get canned artichoke hearts. But they aren't nearly as good, now are they?
Now excuse me, I need to go eat one of these.