SEASONAL FOOD: AUTUMN I: THE ARTICHOKE

The artichoke is one of the products that begins his season to the autumn, and can find since November until April.
The cultivation of this vegetable is mainly in the areas of Costing Mediterranean, which highlights the growing in the eastern coasts of the Iberian Peninsula.

ORIGIN

The artichoke comes from Northeast Africa, and already knew the Greeks and Romans, who considered it as an aphrodisiac food.

Greek legend says that Zeus became Cyara, a maiden of that love in the first artichoke, after that she decided to leave Mount Olympus to visit his family on earth. Cyara is the scientific name of the artichoke. Zeus

Centuries later, during the Middle Ages, it was introduced in Italic and Iberian peninsulas. Then improved the cultivation of cardoon bitter, getting better and tastier varieties.

The word artichoke comes from the Arabic al-kharshûf meaning “tongue of land,” referring to the leaves of the plant.

105117To the 15th century already normally consumed at Italian territories, and during that time was introduced to the french cousine.Introduction to the American continent was by the French and Spanish sailors, which is grown in California and other temperate regions.

He is currently a crop spread throughout the Mediterranean basin, where concentrates a 80% of the world-wide production, Italia is the first producer and Spain the second.

 

ATTRIBUTES AND NUTRICIONALS

carxofesMinerals that include calcium are particularly phosphorus and iron as well as vitamins A, C and B group are highly effective against liver disease, since it is a true protector of the liver, highly recommended in case of hepatitis (A and B), cirrhosis, fatty degeneration of the liver caused by alcohol, alcoholic hepatitis, drug intoxication and always want to boost detoxifying functions of the liver.

The Italian alcoholic drink Cynar made to base of artichoke virtues attributed to disorders of the live

The nutritional composition of artichoke highlights the contribution of fibre: an individual ration of artichokes (150 g) provides 14.1 grams of dietary fibre, which represents near the 40-50% of the total of fibre recommended consume in one day. Fibre helps to correct bowel function and may reduce blood levels of cholesterol.

Also note the presence of inulin, a compound that acts as a laxative moderated and can improve bowel function.

THE CATALAN ARTICHOKE, LOCAL FOOD

In Catalonia the cultivation of the artichoke is mainly focused on coastal areas, but extends to the entire territory from the Baix Emporda, Maresme, Anoia, Vallès Occidental, Garraf, Baix Camp, Segrià and Terra Alta. The geographical distribution of the artichoke allows lengthens growing seasons; the first arrive the month of November and the last around the middle of May.

But it should be noted the existence of two predominant areas for its roots in the Lower Llobregat (artichoke of El Prat) and the Delta de l’Ebre (artichoke of the Baix Ebre and Montsià).
mapa_carxofes

Artichoke Prat, with almost 100 years of history. is working to attain the EU distinctive of quality agricultural products PGI (Protected Geographical Indication).

The deep and fertile terrain of the Delta del Llobregat,; the well tempered climate for the protection of the mountains and the marine action of the Mediterranean do that the artichoke was here sweeter and tender. Characteristics that contrast with the artichokes from other sources, especially the mild taste and less oxidative as well as for its fine texture and mild astringency produced by the tenacity of the artichoke.

The production of artichoke Ebro Delta has increased during the second half of the last century, as a growing alternative to other species of vegetables. The introduction of irrigation canals and its adaptability to saline soils favored in its cultivation.
The white of Tudela variety is the most cultivated, very tender and flavorful. The cultivation of these artichokes are mainly concentrated in L’Aldea and Amposta villages.

HOW TO COOK AND EAT AN ARTICHOKE

Pintxo_de_pulpo_con_alcachofaCurrently the artichoke has been present in the Catalan culinary habits and may be cooked in different ways: grilled, breaded, fried, stuffed, stewed companion and all kinds of vegetables, …

Three combinations are perfectly tied artichokes with ham, mushrooms and clams. Other dishes are easy and quick to prepare omelets or salads with artichokes.

Risoto de cebada con alcachofaHere you can find some recipes:
http://www.dvo.com/recipe_pages/grilln/Catalan_Grilled_Artichokes.html#.VGMFXcnYpgk (eng)
http://www.eatcatalunya.com/?p=475 (eng)
http://www.chow.com/recipes/11900-cuttlefish-meatball-ragout-artichokes-peas (eng)
http://www.cuina.cat/ca/carxofes.php (cat)
http://www.festadelacarxofa.cat/receptes.htm (cat)

 

 CURIOUS FACTS

As a curiosity we can say seed oil is extracted from the artichoke artichoke. His position is similar to how the safflower oil and sunflower oil fatty acid composition of the oil artichoke is 60% linoleic, 25% oleic, 12% palmitic and stearic 3%. Recently oil artichoke has been proposed as a possible biofuel

 

Information from the following websites:
http://www.gastroteca.cat/ca/fitxa-productes/carxofa-prat/
http://www.gastroteca.cat/ca/fitxa-productes/carxofa_del_delta_de_l__ebre/
http://www.gencat.cat/salut/acsa/html/ca/dir2915/doc34551.html