Let’s pretend it’s a food blog

By Mir
October 24, 2006

So, artichokes were on sale at the supermarket this week. And I haven’t had an artichoke in FOREVER. Three came home with me, nestled in-between my standard grocery fare of apples and pears and chicken breast and milk.

Artichokes are good for all sorts of things, you know. Especially if you have kids. They don’t really LOOK edible so much as they look like little round pissed-off armadillos.

And then there’s the inevitable conversation:
“What do they taste like?”
“They taste like artichokes.”

I tried to come up with something to compare it to, and failed. It tastes like an artichoke.

Artichokes are also good as a vehicle for butter. All of the world’s finest foods are merely settings for butter, bacon, or chocolate, I am convinced. (Seriously, think about it. Escargot? I don’t know who came up with the idea, or why, but it’s good because it’s basically just solid lumps of garlic butter. And all that cholesterol offsets the knowledge that you’re eating snails.)

I was looking forward to the butter, I think. Heck, I may not even LIKE artichokes. But I sure do like butter.

Given that it had been years since I last cooked an artichoke, I looked up the preparation online to refresh my memory. Ah, yes. Cut the stem, trim the top, cut the pokey bits off of the leaves. Right. Steamer insert, 35 minutes, okay, got it. What’s this? The recipe I’d grabbed had a note on the bottom that you could dip the leaves in melted butter or mayonnaise mixed with a bit of balsamic vinegar.

Maybe this is a common thing and I’m just now discovering it like a complete moron, and I’m all “You will NEVER BELIEVE THIS, but just now I picked up a little talking box and spoke with someone on ANOTHER talking box and we WEREN’T EVEN IN THE SAME ROOM!” And here I am, all excited, and you are edging towards the door. That may be, I don’t know. If so, forgive me. I am not up on my artichoke cuisine.

ANYWAY, I made the artichokes and I tried the balsamic mayo thing and it was AMAZING. Once again, the taste of the artichoke itself is almost beside the point. For a nanosecond I wondered if the mayo mixture was healthier than melted butter, and then I slapped myself as I remembered that mayo is not exactly a health food. But, um, that quarter-ounce of balsamic vinegar was really good for me. (Also for Chickadee. Monkey was having none of the alien vegetable or its delicious dipping sauce, however.)

Of course, as I made my way down to the choke on my second one (I was finishing Chickadee’s), I got lazy. Scraping the choke out of the first one had gotten little hairy bits of vegetable matter all over the table. I could probably just turn that baby over and scoop out the GOOD flesh as I went along, leaving the rest on the plate. Right?

Sure. Mostly. Nevermind the big bite of choke I got when I wasn’t paying attention.

I had to brush my teeth twice, just to get all the little nasty fibrous bits out from between my teeth.

In summary…
Balsamic mayo: Yes!
Hairy teeth: No!

You’re welcome.


  1. Suebob

    Artichokes have always been my favorite food. Super yum. Their secret is a chemical that makes almost everything – except wine – that you taste after them, taste better. Trust me, they are excellent with cool ranch doritos.

  2. InterstellarLass

    My Ex’s grandma used to put some kind of seasoned breading into the leaves and then bake them in the oven. Then you’d pick off the leaves and eat the breading/stuffing off the leaf. I’d never had artichoke before that. Or since.

  3. Marvo

    I get hairy teeth when I try to eat the meat near the pit off of a mango. After that, I’m flossing for about 30 minutes. I realize it’s not worth it, but I will probably do it again when I eat another mango. Oh evil, evil mango!

  4. Cele

    Okay, I’m the one whose never eaten artichokes with butter. But mayo, yes and forever. Now I will have to put some balsamic into the mix…sounds yummy. Wow a kid who doesn’t it artichokes? that maybe a first. But I’m with you, that just would mean more for me. :)

  5. Muirnait

    I’ve mostly only had artichokes in spinach and artichoke dip. But I saw a guy on a cooking show who did something really yummy with them, I think…

  6. lastewie

    I love artichokes so much it’s obscene. And the prickly bits don’t chafe as bad as you’d think. :-)

    I had baby artichokes prepared in Spain for me once, sliced lengthwise and pan fried. They were so mini that the choke was tender not hairy, and there were no spines. I guess it was kind of like veal in that way. Minus the torture.

  7. Juliness

    Artichokes are one of my all time faves. I typically make a mayo based sauce heavily laced with lemon juice and some dill, but I must now try the mayo-balsamic thing. Thanks for the dinner idea!

  8. daysgoby

    …must find artichokes today….

    Darn you, Mir!

  9. Susan

    I totally misread the “chicken breast and milk” as “chicken and BREAST MILK” and I thought, I wonder where one finds breast milk in the grocery? Whole Foods? Hmmm.

    Must. Have. More. Coffee.

  10. Suzanne

    I go straight for the hearts! yum.

  11. Aimee

    Ooh, balsamic mayo. Yum, yum. I’ll have to try that.

  12. Summer

    Do you think balsamic mayo would be good with french fries? I love me some french fries dipped in mayonnaise. Mmmm, healthy European eating habits….

  13. Tammy

    Long time lurker … had to pop in and let you know what you are missing. Aioli! I get fried artichoke hearts, yeah I know, not so healthy, at a local Italian eatery. They serve them with aioli sauce which is a garlic/mayo/oil concoction that is heaven.

  14. Lizzy'sMom

    Next time try a little curry powder mixed in the mayo. Yum!

  15. wookie

    Wow. You’re brave. I’m terrified of artichokes or any other “exotic” vegetable. I just don’t know what to do with them. But since my mom never cooked (I’m serious, I turned on the stove when I was 7 because I was hungry and learned how to make hamburger helper), I’m doing well to have mastered squash, carrots, things that are florets (broccoli, cauliflower), vegetables that come in a freezer bag and things that are leaved (lettuce, spinach, cabbage).

    That’s my vegetable repitoire :-( Bok Choy? Bok no! Artichoke? Has the word choke in it! Parsnip? Turnip? Rutebaga? Leeks? What do you DO with those things?

  16. Jenn

    oooh.. my favorite food. yum. I make a wicked mayo based sauce with red wine vinegar, a little dijon mustard (most recently one with tarragon) some pepper and viola’

    One of my favorite restaurants tucks seasoned breading mixed with crab between the leaves and bakes it… heaven…

    But the best is how my mom used to make hollandaise sauce for dipping. Sadly, I have yet to master hollandaise.

  17. bon

    Got a friend who makes a dip using some sort of mayo concotion and chunks of artichoke… she serves it with crusty loaves of french bread and LA! all the bad-for-you goodness with no haity teeth!

  18. Her Bad Mother

    Oh, mmmmm. Ever had deep-fried artichokes? With butter? (droooool)

  19. Deb

    Hey…I know this is like sort of OFFtopic but I was backtracking (Missed ya babe but life grabbed me and shook me HARD for a few weeks)…I see that you are trying the whole gluten free existence. More power to ya and you have my ummm…well I know how hard it is. Anywho….I do have a recipe here for homemade gluten free toaster pastries *waves index car* Check it out:

    Toaster Pastries
    Miss Roben Pie Crust Mix, prepared according to package instructions
    Jam, jelly or other gluten free fillings, as desired

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Roll out prepared mix, cut into rectangular shapes.
    3. Spread 1-2 Tbsp filling into center of cut dough.
    4. Crimp edges closed and transfer onto sprayed or greased cookie tray.
    5. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.

    Note: If the dough is browning too quickly, tent with aluminum foil to help prevent the exterior from becoming too dark.

  20. The Babe

    The dip thing with the crusty french bread? 1 can of artichoke hearts (I suppose you could use fresh.,.I wouldn’t have the slightest idea), 1 cup mayo, 1 cup grated parmesan. Mix and bake until bubbly. OMG. Sooooooo unbelievably decadent. Other variations include adding crab or spinach, as well as throwing in another cheese or two – mozzarella, perhaps.

  21. Jenn2

    I have never had an artichooke, but I think I might just have to try them, since I love me some balsamic vinegar.

    Oh, and I can totally hook you and Susan up with some breast milk. ;)

  22. Carol

    Ohhhh, good idea the mayo + basalmic vinegar. This must be the modern way to eat an artichoke. I always dip my artichoke leaves in plain mayo.

    The next time I eat one I’ll recall this entry & your hairy teeth, lol.

  23. karen

    I love artichokes and will try the mayo/balsamic thing next time. I used to use butter until my husband turned me on to artichokes with FRENCH DRESSING. Yum.

  24. Mom101

    There needs to be more funny food writing in the world. I’d give you a NYT column in a minute.

  25. Liise

    I ALWAYS have eaten Artichokes with Mayo. But jes regular mayo – keep the balsamic on the leafy greens please.

  26. Heidi

    If you go the butter route, it’s especially great with minced garlic and lemon. I’m just sayin’…

  27. Melanie

    Honestly, I have no idea how to prepare an artichoke. I only eat them in restaurants because they just look too daunting. I think I bought one once and then ended up mangling it and threw it away….. But really, I’m not a bad cook!

  28. rachel

    my favorite birthday dinner is lobster, artichokes, french bread, and corn on the cob. all vehicles for butter. mmmmm…

    sadly, all 3 of my children love lobster and artichokes. We’re expensive dates. :)

    To the artichoke-phobes: it’s absurdly easy to prepare. Chop off the very top bit, chop off the stem, make an x in the bottom, and then drop in boiling water that has some vinegar & seasoning in it. Boil for about 40 minutes, until the leaves come off easily. dip leaves in something, and enjoy

  29. Heidi

    Or, steam them in the microwave. Ours is wimpy, so it takes 17 minutes; it would probably take less time in a more powerful one.

  30. angela

    I’m just going to go ahead and admit that I’ve never had an artichoke before. But hairy bits of vegetable matter? Flesh? Nasty fibrous bits? I’m with Monkey on this one — no alien vegetables for me, thankyouverymuch.

  31. Cat

    I grew up eating artichokes. I have even been to the artichoke capital of the world! But what’s this plain mayo business? Mayo + horseradish is the dip of choice at our house.

    As for preparing them, I think most ya’ll go to a lot of effort. I wash them, trim the stem and toss into the steamer. What’s the X on the stem for? And while the leaves do look pretty with their tips trimmed off, it’s purely aesthetic. And it keeps me from my artichoke that much longer.

  32. elswhere

    Mmmm, artichokes…

    I am the only one in the house who likes them, so I hardly ever buy them. But it’s so worth it when I do. That dressing sounds extremely yummy, too.

  33. David

    Artichokes are pretty good, but Butter, Bacon,and Chocolate? Dude, those are Essential Foods.

  34. Rachael

    Thanks, Mir. I just totally had to have a calorie ridden spinach and artichoke dip for lunch. And I’m on a lifestyle change (aka DIET).

  35. Kristi

    Dip them in Caesar dressing. You’ll like that too.

  36. Cyndi

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…LOVE artichokes. About 10 years ago, I decided we should be more adventurous with our veggies. We have found many that we like now that we are old. ;P A friend told me about artichokes and I ran right home with them and cooked them. We tried them with Garlic Butter and Lemon Butter. Loved both. Got to work the next day and she said, “What did you think of the heart?” I looked at her stupid, cuz I was, and she said, “Under the hairy stuff?” She was so sad when I told her we had thrown that part out. After I ran back to the store and made them again, struggled to get the hair off and ATE the heart, I was sad, too. I actually wanted to dig the others out of the trash. I did not. Wanted to. But. Ew.

    And I am with Cat, keep it simple…simple. But? I have not had them since I started WW, cuz of the fact that I am a butter-lover from birth. So, been trying to figure out if it would be worth it to try the “I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter” spray or not. Fat Free Mayo with the Balsalmic Vinegar might just be the thing…

    I don’t think I will be trying the breast milk and chicken dip any time soon, though.

  37. carson

    Artichokes on sale reminds me of the really bad joke my dad used to tell that ended with the punch line that the newspaper headline was “Artie chokes three for a dollar.” Which I guess tells you that the joke is not only bad, but old, because even on sale, your artie chokes were more than a dollar.

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