venerdì 16 aprile 2010

I am back!

Hi everybody,

I'm finally back from my holidays.

After a long time I was finally able to prepare one of my all-time favourites namely, the famous "Carciofi alla giudia"
It's an old roman recipe and the preparation is quite simple it is however necessary to know a couple of tricks.
The "carciofi alla giudia" are basically deep fried artichokes, this means that both the artichokes and the frying oil has to be of the best quality possible.

There are many different artichoke varieties, the most common, at least in Italy, are the "violetto" and the "mammola".
The "violetto" is tulip-shaped and provided with long pointy thorns, the "romanesco"  is much bigger and round and has tiny little thorns (take anyway care - they're pointy).
The violetto is usually eaten raw while the romanesco gives its best cooked or deep fried.

The origin of artichokes is unknown, though they are said to have come from the North Africa, where they are still found in the wild state.  
The english name of the artichoke comes from the arabic term "Ardi-Shoki" which means "ground thorny".  in many other european languages (e.g. italian or spanish) the present name comes from the arabic word "al-kharshuf".
The cardoon, a naturally occurring variant of the same species, is native to the South Mediterranean, and is often present in many ancient roman recipes.
Artichokes were cultivated in Sicily during the Greek occupation.
In this period the leaves and flower heads, which cultivation had already improved from the wild form, were eaten. The Romans, who called the vegetable carduus received the plant from the Greeks. Further improvement in the cultivated form appear to have taken place in the Muslim period in northern Africa.

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