In Season: Artichokes
During the summer, the Killavullen Farmers’ Market moves to Friday nights for a time, which is useful for me going home from work, and I was delighted to pick up a couple of just-picked globe artichokes there last week from the Nano Nagle stall. The first time I ever encountered them in real life – having pored over how-to-eat pictures in my mother’s cordon bleu cookbook as a child – was when I was (briefly) an au pair in Chamonix and they are a rare treat.
We ate them during the week, the stalks sliced off to the base and the artichokes then simmered in salted water, under a side pate to keep them immersed, until the point of a knife penetrated the base easily. I melted some butter, added a squeeze of lemon and landed the drained artichokes on the table, leaves to be picked off one by one and dipped in the buttery lemon dressing before we used our teeth to scrape off the tender nub at the bottom. As the pile of discarded leaves grew bigger, we eventually got to the heart of the matter. Once the hairy choke was removed we could savour our long-deffered reward, the sweet artichoke heart. After mopping up the last of the dressing with a crust of bread, then mopping our fingers and faces, we contemplated the debris left behind and determined to buy even more at the next farmers’ market. Or maybe we just need to start growing our own?