Purple Artichoke
Purple Artichoke

The artichoke
With a tender heart
Dressed up like a warrior,
Standing at attention, it built
A small helmet
Under its scales…

By Pablo Neruda

From Ode to the Artichoke

 

Kaktos were grown and cultivated in Sicily during the Greek period (750 BC) and at that time the leaves and flower heads were eaten. They were used by the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians as food and medicine.

 

Artichokes have diuretics properties and also increase circulation. They regenerate liver tissue and stimulate the gall bladder. According to Raintree “In Brazilian herbal medicine systems, leaf preparations are used for liver and gallbladder problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, anemia, diarrhea (and elimination in general), fevers, ulcers, and gout.”

 

Steamed artichokes (with ¼ of each scale removed, eliminating the thorns) are eaten by removing the leaves one at a time. They are then often dipped in vinegar, butter,  mayonnaise, or other sauces. The artichoke is also used to make beverages…in Vietnam they make a commercial tea in the Dalat region. It also plays a primary role in the flavoring of the Italian liquor Cynar.

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