That was true for me until I spent a few days with a French family and noticed how they prepared and ate them. The family grew their own artichokes.
Artichoke as an appetizer prepared this way gives everybody a bit of work at the table. A nice dipping sauce completes this appetizer.
Artichoke are known for the artichoke hearts, but in this appetizer, the hearts are only reward for the hard work of the diners.
- 1 artichoke per person
- Some lemons (read here how to keep lemons fresh)
- For the dip (many dips will work, this is one that works for me, but be creative and work with the ingredients you have):
- 50 ml full-fat mayonnaise per person (preferably home-made)
- Some balsamic vinegar to taste
- Pepper and salt to taste.
- Prepare the artichokes by:
- Cutting of the stem as closely to the bulb as possible
- Cutting the leaves in the center
- Cutting off the top halves of the other outer leaves
- Rubbing the whole outside with half of a lemon to prevent the artichoke from turning brown.
- In a large pan, bring enough water to a boil to cover the artichokes all the way. Add some lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
- Place the artichokes in the water upside down. Artichokes tend to float up. In order to keep them fully covered by the water, place something heavy, such as a plate, on top.
- Meanwhile, prepare your dip by mixing the ingredients and tasting all the while.
- Cook for 40 minutes, then take the artichokes out and let them drain upside down.
- Serve one artichoke per diner with a little bowl of the dipping sauce.
How to eat this appetizer
This is where it gets messy. Starting with the other leaves, pick a leaf and dip the thicker end of it in the sauce. Next, put that part of the leaf in your mouth, put your teeth together and retract the leaf. This way your teeth scrape the flesh on the leaf off.
At some point you will reach the hairy stuff that is on top of the artichoke heart. Remove all of it - and here is the reward for your hard work: the nice artichoke heart!