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Globe artichokes

Globe artichokes are a member of the thistle family. The bulb of the plant is the edible part.

When choosing an artichokes try to find one that feels heavy for its size. A fresh artichoke should squeak when it is squeezed, although by the time it has made it to the supermarket it may have lots its squeak.

Artichokes grow in warm climates, especially in the Mediterranean and California, USA (mostly in Monterey County , which accounts for 80% of all US production of globe artichokes).

To cook artichokes, bring a large pan of boiling water to the boil and add a large pinch of salt. Trim the base of the artichoke so that the stem is flush with the bottom leaves. Remove any brown or limp leaves from the bottom of the artichoke. Place artichokes in the pan with the stalk end downwards (make sure there is enough room in the pan for all to fit comfortably with no overlap). Cook for 15 minutes and remove largest artichoke from pan with a slotted spoon. Try pulling a leaf away from the second or third layer of leaves from the bottom. If it pulls easily then it is ready; if not, return to the pan until you can pull the leaves easily. Drain the artichokes. Eat with a vinaigrette, hollandaise sauce or mayonnaise.

It can be hard to find a suitable wine to go with globe artichokes because the sweetness of the flavor over-rides most wines. It is usually easier to drink water with globe artichokes or possibly a sweetish beer.

The Italians produce an artichoke based liquer called Cynar, which although it has 12 other ingredients is predominately based on the artichoke, which also features prominently on its label.