While much of the country won't see artichokes at farmers' markets for awhile, California residents are lucky to have the pine-cone shaped perennials in season now. Artichokes are available all year on the West Coast, but they peak from March to May and again in October. Originating in the Mediterranean, an overwhelming majority of artichokes grown in the United States are from California. The plants are actually the buds of thistles, which are in the sunflower family.
One way to eat artichokes is to pull off petals one by one, slip the tender ends in sauce or butter and scrape at the soft mass of the leaves with your teeth. Take out the choke (the fuzzy fronds) with a melon baller or spoon and finish off the artichoke heart. Try artichokes cold or hot, boiled or braised.
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What's your favorite way to eat artichokes?