As a food blogger, I receive my fair share of promotional emails. It might be about a new cookbook, a kitchen tool, a new recipe application for iphone or a food product. Actually, this summer I am testing a new wire contraption for growing tomatoes; no doubt you will hear about that gadget later this year---when my tomatoes are hanging heavily from their stems. Every so often I get an email promoting a special type of fish or pasta, 'new' cocktail or specific vegetable.
Many of them, I delete. Those that fit the 'flavor of my blog' or my current short-list of curiosities, will be read. And sometimes I agree to try products, review them and blog about them. In the case of this last email, it was simply a promotional/informational email about artichokes.
Which hit home.
Here in Italy---and elsewhere around the world---artichokes are in season. In fact, farmer's markets are teaming with them. When I was in Venice in April, I walked by artichoke-full carts, artichoke-stacked crates and men-peeling-artichokes all day long. I stood and watched. And held my jaw upright, against its gravitational desire to drop---it was that cool, and the 'peelers' were so deft with a knife. Addressing artichokes is one of my food avoidances---I haven't used them much quite simply because I haven't tried---or learned. (Read my post on 'facing my fear of yeast,' why do we have food fears? What is the big deal with unfamiliarity?).
But I like artichokes---so it is time I do my homework and brave the unknown. I especially love them marinated, from this little Italian cheese/wine/pasta shop around the corner...
This email was from Ocean Mist Farms, located in California. I was impressed: they have how-to videos, recipes, and even youtube and twitter @artichokerecipes accounts. Oh, and an 'Artichoke Aficionados Club.' These people have nailed branding and marketing in today's technological environs: I was impressed. Here are some of the quick facts I enjoyed learning:
- Baby artichokes are fully mature artichokes, they grow close to the ground. They are easy to prepare and cook because the inner fuzzy portion doesn't develop.
- Prepare baby artichokes by cutting 1/2 inch off top, remove steam and all dark green from base, then snap off lower petals until yellow-green core is reached.
- Baby artichokes can be steamed 15-20 minutes until tender; you can also, grill, roast or saute them (cut in halves or quarters)
- Artichokes: think antioxidant (red wine, chocolate and... artichokes?!), a good source of fiber, potassium (1 medium artichoke = 1 small banana), magnesium and Vitamin C.