Eating Cardoons

There was frost last night, and so the time had come for the cardoons to come down.  

After their nap under a paper blanket they were pale and celery like, and covered with sow bugs and slugs.  Not terribly appetizing.  I brought them inside and consulted Alice Waters, who told me to wash them, cut them into three-inch lengths, simmer them for 45 minutes, and then make a gratin with them (cream, salt and pepper, cheese).  She also said that young, tender stalks could be eaten raw.  I tried a white young thing – and spat it out.  It tasted like an aged dandelion.  I went on (doubtfully) with the recipe.  The moment the water with the cardoons began to simmer, the house was infused with the smell of…artichokes.  Amazing.

This was the resulting dinner:

The gratin is hard to see, on the left, eaten with steak and oven fries.  The gratin was quite good, with a distinct artichoke flavor, but still with a bitter hit that made it interesting.  I’m not sure cardoons would ever make it onto my weekly vegetable rotation, which is all to the good, seeing as getting them onto a plate has been a six month project.

Next year?  Maybe.

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