Saturday 24 April 2010

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. Oh my I'd love to taste this with the anchovy dressing. Yum, yum, yum!


  2. Purple artichokes! I'm in love! And I want some of the deep fried sort -- sounds heavenly!

  3. Paz & Vicki,
    I wished I had a plate of artichokes ready to eat right now (I spent the last days in lectures halls and studio and feel kind of spent and would love to be treated to some freshly prepared food)!

    the fried Roman artichoke is truly special!

  4. It is wonderful living in the Sam Francisco area, only a hundred miles north of Castroville, one of the largest artichoke growing regions in the world. Your post has, indeed, made me hungry for this marvelous vegetable. I like it anyway it's fixed but the fried ones sound especially delicious!

  5. Merisi, thank you for this introduction to artichoke heaven. Thank you for the recipe reference, too.

    Will I ever try to prepare these wonders? Not a chance. Do I dream of being able to wing over to Rome to dine upon them. Well, of course!


  6. It is one of the very first things I do in Rome (after the normal things)...go get some real, authentic carciofi alla Giudia. The other dishes I do myself but all the frying for that dish--no, I let them work their magic. Also eentsy weensy ones eaten raw in spring, also stewed with potatoes, oh I have eaten today, yes. I sound famished..

    ciao bella

  7. Love the play of light on the green in one of those shots. You do have this amazing ability to make us feel as if we are right there by your elbow.

    Yup, count me in for the anchovy dressing!

  8. Maybe if I ate an artichoke in Rome I'd learn to like them.

  9. I love artichokes, and these photos are glorious. Spring in Italy--what could be better.

  10. Nice pictures! :)
    Martina from Sweden.

  11. An amazing work of art, the artist is talented. I must look at for artichokes for sale here.. doubt it very much though.

  12. Fried artichoke -never had it (only know it steamed with a butter sauce) sounds good to try out!


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