The Roman artichoke, the king of the vegetable garden

They are considered the “kings of the garden” and have been served on the tables of the houses and restaurants in Rome for years. But how do you prefer to eat artichokes?

A nymph transformed into an artichoke

He calls himself “the king of the garden” or simply “the eighth wonder of Rome“. The artichoke is a round and thorny plant that everyone loves in Rome and which is prepared in many ways, but above all fried or in oil.

It has been cultivated in Mediterranean environments for centuries and it seems that even the ancient Egyptians were crazy about it at the time. They greatly appreciated the beneficial properties of the plant and consequently used them to prepare medicines and cure diseases.

Some instead attribute the origins of artichokes to the Greeks. A legend tells of Zeus who fell in love with the nymph Cynara and who took her with him to Olympus. It would seem like a story with a happy ending but in reality it is not like that at all.

The nymph Cynara, who had subsequently been transformed into a goddess, was not at all happy to be on Olympus and consequently had devised plans to be able to return to earth, which unfortunately had been discovered by Zeus.

The god could not bear Cynara’s attempt to escape and to punish her he had therefore thrown her to the ground and finally transformed her into a thorny plant, namely the artichoke.

A delight since ancient times

It is not easy to determine who was the first to discover and cultivate the artichoke. However, it is easy to understand that already in ancient times it was a food that everyone adored and that was prepared in many ways.

For example, there was a recipe that combined the artichoke with hard-boiled eggs and a fish sauce called garum. A second preparation will include the artichoke seasoned with mint, celery, coriander, honey and garum. Then there was a third recipe which consisted of boiling the artichoke and then seasoning it with cumin and once again the garum.

Even those who are faithful to the god Bacchus were lovers of artichokes. They tasted them together with a good glass of wine because it seemed that together they gave the effect of an aphrodisiac.

The delicious judiciary artichoke

For centuries the artichoke has therefore been a food that belongs to tradition and which is served on the tables of restaurants and Roman houses.

It is prepared in many ways even if the most loved probably remains in the judiciary. It is a recipe that consists of frying a well-opened artichoke in a saucepan, until it becomes nice and crunchy. The end result is a fragrant delight for the palate.

A second way instead consists in cooking the hearts of the artichokes in a pan and flavoring them with garlic and mint. Even in that way, they are truly delicious.