Thursday 2 April 2009

Postcards from Abroad: Roman Spring

Claudio's Stall at
Campo de Fiori'

When in Rome in early Spring,
do as the Romans do:
Eat artichokes,
any which way
you can find them prepared

The Artist at Work
Claudio's Stall
Campo de' Fiori

Ada Boni's classic cookbook
- "Il Talismano della Cucina" -
offers almost four dozen recipes with artichokes,
among them "Carciofi fritti alla Giudia",
whole artichokes fried to look like giant flowers.

The outer leaves are fried to a lovely crunchiness,
while the protected inner core is cooked to perfect succulence.
Together, they taste like Manna from Heaven.

Ada Boni's "Carciofi alla Giudia"
recipe reads like a suspense story,
great for entertainment value,
but better not tried at home.

And why should you?
Via Ottaviana is lined with restaurants
specializing in Roman-Jewish cuisine.
They serve this Jewish-style delicacy
fried to perfection,
without you slaving over a hot frying pot.

Besides, in Italy,
the outdoor markets or your greengrocer
offer a wide variety of artichokes,
a special one for each recipe ever invented
- and cleaned and prepared, ready to cook -
so you start already with a distinct disadvantage
when trying to replicate Roman recipes abroad.

Still, there is a classic Roman artichoke dish,
fairly easy to prepare if someone else
has cleaned the artichokes for you:

Carciofi nel Tegame alla Romana
Artichokes ready to be cooked
Roman style, in a saucepan
For Ada Boni's recipe,
click on the comments

My Rome

at Rome's Campo de' Fiori
Market and the nearby
Via Ottaviana in March 2009
by Merisi

Now, anybody interested
in that other Roman spring vegetable,
"Puntarelle" with anchovy dressing? ;-)


  1. Please pardon my foray into Roman Spring. I couldn't help it: the sun's shining and I am stuck inside. I started dreaming of Spring in Rome and decided to share it with you. I hope you don't mind too much.

    Here is the recipe for
    "Artichokes Roman Style",
    gleaned from Ada Boni's "Tesoro della Cucina" (Casa Editrice Colombo):

    4 large artichokes, cleaned like the ones in the first picture of my post,
    with part of the stem attached and the tiny leaves of the core and the choke beneath removed, then rubbed all over with lemon juice.

    Make a paste with 2 tablespoons chopped mentuccia romana (a Roman mint which complements the artichoke flavour perfectly - you can use Italian parsley instead, though this means losing the dish's characteristic Roman flavour), 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, half teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons of good olive oil. Press about a teaspoon of the paste into the cleaned core and rub the rest all over the artichoke.

    Stand them with the stem up in a small heavy bottomed saucepan,
    large enough to later fit the artichokes in there sideways.

    Fill a quarter cup of olive oil and enough water into the pan to cover the artichokes halfway up to the stem. Cook them in the open pan for about half an hour, then turn them sideways to finish cooking the stem for another 20 minutes or so, turning the artichokes again halfway through.

    Tastes good at room temperature and makes a wonderful appetizer to a Spring menu.

    (I remember that a friend from Modena slightly modificated the recipe, adding a glass of white wine to the cooking liquid.)

    Bon appetito! :-)

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog, Merisi. It's been too long since I was here, too, and I see you finally have a new camera! What a difference it makes to your photos! These are lovely. Since I got my Nikon D70 I've been in heaven, too.

  3. ohh i like the colors in the first picture. should try that recipe sometime too :)

  4. I so love artichokes - and those are particularly artistic and beautiful - more like flowers that produce.

  5. delightful...really! I thought the first image was a brooch actually and thought it pretty and unusaul then I realised! DUH!!

  6. Oh, its not fair...I absolutely love artichokes. They are still so expensive in the stores that I will have to be patient. thanks for your recipe.
    Beautiful pictures. We don't usually see chokes so purple here. They are a rather boring green. Oh and I don't mind the trip to Rome at all...

  7. Who know artichokes could be so pretty? They look like giant ranunculus in that last picture. I LOVE the colors in the first photo!

  8. I love how you turned artichokes into art! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  9. Love that beautiful first image and artichokes are one of my very most favorite things to eat.

  10. Merisi, thank you for your kind commen and woderful offer. I would dearly love the see the purple Eisbecher, a tiny flower just peeping through the snow, or it it is too late for them, thr yellow Violets and the earlt Enzian or anything flowering wild at this time. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I wish I had someone to pare down our artichokes, that is if we get rain an can manage to grow them again.

  11. What a great idea to post the recipe. Your photos as always are top-notch. I tend to catch up with your blogs every couple of weeks and just enjoy the feast for my eyes as I scroll back to older post. Always so impressive. Thank you for this.

  12. Brilliant photos, as always - Merisi!

    Delightful. Thanks for sharing!

  13. A beautiful vegetable and a fabulous blog. Thanks for checking mine out ... Love from The Prairie. xoxo.

  14. Yum! I love artichokes. Beautiful photos of them all. Your recipe sounds delicious.

  15. I never had fresh artichokes, just the artichokes hearts in a jar.

  16. Wonderful post about a favourite food, and a recipe as well. Thank you, Merisi.

  17. Not so keen on artichokes! But your photos are great! Enjoyed the Skywatch photos too - they are beautiful! Thanks for your comment on mine - just need the poem translated! It's German right?

  18. Il Talismano della Felicità is one of my favourite cookbooks (and indeed a classic).
    I love this first picture, the colours are so intense.

  19. Merisi: I enjoyed that you refered to the preparer as an artisan.

  20. Hey, those pictures could tempt me to Rome - I have never been there!

  21. Thank you for our sweet glimpse into Roman spring!
    What joy.
    I linked to you today!

  22. This so reminds me of the big pans of floating artichoke hearts in lemon water in the Venice market.
    I eat an artichoke a day when they are in season.
    Fond memories of artichokes...


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