The Ligurian variety of artichokes (carciofi) are one of the many exquisite local land offerings. The diversity of foods from the Ligurian region in Northern Italy are owed to it's borders of Piedmont, France, the Alps and the Mediterranean. What's found here provides a plethora of foodstuffs such as
olive oil, basil, pesto, focaccia,
seafood, chestnuts, game, mushrooms and artichokes. I first grew to love artichokes in New Orleans where I often ate them stuffed, fried or in oyster and artichoke soup. In Liguria I enjoyed them by simply peeling and dipping them in delicious Ligurian olive oil and the best balsamic vinegar I have ever tasted. The waxy, spiny thorn at the end of each petal is plucked and held while the pulpy end of the petal is dipped and eaten, using the teeth to scrape the tender flesh. The further you go into the body or choke of the artichoke the more tender the leaf becomes. I love the taste of artichoke paired with crispy and creamy but eating them in their pure form was a revelation - clean, with a texture of newborn vegetables, a bit like a fresh chestnut that has been spread upon a leaf, bit of celery. It was like eating them for the first time but without all the pomp and circumstance.