The origins of artichokes date back to the time of the Greek philosopher and naturalist Theophrastus (371-287 B. C. ), who wrote about their growth in Italy and Sicily. Ancient Greeks and Romans considered artichokes an aphrodisiac and in Greece they were also thought to be effective in securing the birth of boys. In the 1800s, French immigrants brought artichokes to the United States when they settled in the Louisiana Territory. In the latter part of the 1800s, French colonists established artichokes in the Monterey area of California. California is now the world’s largest producer of artichokes. In the 1920s, Ciro Terranova “Whitey”, a member of the mafia known as the “Artichoke King, ” began his monopoly of the artichoke market by purchasing all the produce shipped to New York from California for $6 a crate. He created a produce company and sold the artichokes at a 30-40% profit. This later led to “the artichoke wars” and the mayor of New York at the time, Fiorello La Guardia banned the sale, display and possession of artichokes. The ban was lifted after only one week when the mayor admitted that he himself loved the vegetable.
Artichokes contain the chemical, cynarin, which researchers are finding benefits the liver. Silymarin is another compound found in artichokes that has powerful anti-oxidant properties. A medium artichoke has 25 calories and provides phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, chromium, potassium, iron and calcium. They are also a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and folate. They are low in sodium and have no fat or cholesterol. They can help reduce the risk of many kinds of heart disease, cancer and birth defects.
Serving Size: 10
Simmer the artichokes in salted lemon water until tender. Remove them from the water and cool in an ice bath. Peel away the leaves. Remove the hearts and bottoms and dice them.
In a soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the celery, leeks, onions, shallots and garlic and sauté until tender.
Add the diced artichokes, bay leaf and stock and simmer for approximately 45 minutes.
Remove from the heat, remove the bay leaf, puree the soup in a blender and strain through a strainer.
Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and adjust the consistency with additional stock if necessary.
Pour the soup into hot soup bowls. Garnish with sliced truffles and opal basil oil and serve.
Jason Dick is an Internet Security Specialist and web author whose most recent notable work can be found at http://home.stopsign.com .
He has also worked for seven years in the food services industry and is writing a series of articles regarding current food trends, many of which contain recipes for the website: http://recipefor.com