I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the progress of my globe artichokes. Despite the very English weather so far this spring, this Mediterranean plant is already nearly as tall as me and has about half a dozen buds forming. I think this is partly down to the very mild winter as it stayed green throughout. The previous winter, a shop bought plant was completely annihilated by the long cold spell we had. When the leaves died down with the first frost, I carefully covered it with straw as protection but once the ground thawed and the snow finally melted two months later, it had disappeared completely. I love the architectural quality of artichokes so I grew this from seed and was amazed to be able to harvest a crop from it in its first year. As it did so well last year and seems to flourish in the dry, stony soil that I get in parts of my allotment, I thought I’d grow a few more. This attractive purple variety is violetto precoce from the Italian seed company Franchi.
Artichokes are fiddly to prepare but very tasty and being so fresh, mine were especially tender. I gently poached them in wine, lemon juice and olive oil and they were delicious. We’re off to Spain on Sunday were I expect to see lots of these vegetables in the market and growing like weeds at the edges of fields. Fresh artichokes are so expensive here, the first time I cooked them was on another Spanish holiday. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them but found a cookbook in the house we had rented. Unfortunately, the cookbook was in Danish, like the house’s owners, and the labourious process of preparing the artichokes was made even lengthier by having to translate the instructions with the use of a Danish/Spanish then a Spanish/English dictionary. Dinner was rather late that evening, I recall.