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The artichoke, cynara scolymus, is a plant similar to a thistle[?]. Its fruit is edible, though often misclassified as a vegetable. These are sometimes called globe artichoke to avoid confusion with the Jerusalem artichoke[?].

Eating technique

Eating a whole one is a trap for the unwary inexperienced diner. The large leathery "leaves" are pulled off one by one, and their soft bases (usually) dipped in some kind of sauce, perhaps mayonnaise or vinaigrette. The dipped soft part is then pulled off with the teeth and all the rest of the leaf discarded: it is not to be eaten. The fleshy part which is eaten at this stage is delicious, but small in proportion to the object from which it comes.

This continues until most of the leaves have been removed and the remaining ones, which were originally far inside this part of the plant, are becoming too small and fluffy to be worth eating. (This is difficult to judge and the novice artichoke eater may wish to seek guidance by discreetly watching a companion around this time.)

Once this point is reached, a knife may be used to remove the whole top layer of the now-fluffy leaflike structures. The idea is to cut as high up as possible whilst still removing all of the irritating feathery stuff. If this is judged correctly, the whole top part can be neatly removed leaving a large fleshy area called the "heart". It is these parts that are sold cut up and bottled as "artichoke hearts". The lower part of this, where it becomes the stalk which attached this structure to the plant, cannot be eaten, but the soft part of the heart itself should be consumed with relish.

It will be seen that the art of eating this food is in itself a satisfying and time consuming matter which has wider implications than mere nourishment.

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