On a whim, I bought an artichoke from the supermarket. I dimly remember having one when I was a kid, and enjoying scraping the leaves with my teeth. I finally decided to cook it today. In the process of skimming such sites as the California Artichoke Advisory Board, I learned:
It’s a giant thistle! So if you have kids, say it’s like what Eeyore eats in Winnie The Pooh. Hopefully the A.A. Milne version is what they’re being raised on.
“One 12-ounce artichoke is a good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium. It’s low in sodium, fat-free and a dieter’s delight at only 25 calories.” — Artichokes.org
“Artichokes, including leaves, were thought to be an aphrodisiac, a diuretic, a breath freshener and even a deodorant.” — Oceanmist.com
“Current research is showing benefits to the liver from cynarin, a compound found in the artichoke’s leaves. Silymarin is another compound found in artichokes that has powerful anitoxidant properties and may help the liver regenerate healthy tissue.” — Oceanmist.com
The peak season for artichokes is March through May, so this is a seasonal veggie you can get hold of now. Nearly all artichokes sold in the US come from California. They have an artichoke festival every year in Castroville.