I don’t particularly care for artichokes, but I know that many people do. They’ll steam the artichoke, perhaps add a little melted butter and scrape off the fleshy insides of the leaves with their teeth (my mom liked them with mayonnaise). To me they’re too much work for too little reward. Because I don’t like the veggie, my interest never went any further than passing them up in the produce aisle at the supermarket.
What I didn’t know until recently is that the part of the plant that we see in the grocery stores, the part that is cooked and eaten, isn’t the end result of it’s mature growth. According to the vegetablegardener.com, the artichoke, a part of the thistle family, is actually the closed bud of an undeveloped flower.
I recently was at the Boggs tract Community Garden where a plot of artichokes was growing. There were a few closed buds but most had grown past that point. A few were fully opened with a spiky lavender bloom bursting forth similar to that of a milk or bull thistle. Even those blossoms that weren’t fully opened were attractive too. The previously green outsides leaves were in different stages of turning to a purple/red color on the outside. On the inner leaves the changing colors varied from a white to a light gold.
Visually, artichoke buds were always a bit on he ugly side to me. They always reminded me of the hand grenades that soldiers used to throw in those old WWII movies. But now having seen how they grow, I have a greater appreciation of their life cycle and their potential beauty from a photographic standpoint.
As a vegetable and a food I’m still not a fan of artichokes, but as a flower, I’m now a believer.