Artichokes in Venice


Artichokes ready for the chop.                                    Artichoke bottoms (fondi) sitting in lemon water

Artichokes ready for the chop. Artichoke bottoms (fondi) sitting in lemon water

I just got back from 2 weeks in Venice. This obsession with artichokes started in Venice where, in the most part, they don’t even worry about the leaves and go straight to the heart. Here they use the fondi (bases) of the artichoke. Some artichokes are left on the plant a little longer than usual just for this purpose. Although I’ve never seen a Californian artichoke in the flesh, I think they are probably suitable for this purpose too. The most typical recipe and traditional way the Venetians use these fondi is to simply boil them and dress them with olive oil garlic and parsley. They can be served hot, warm or cold. You will find them on most restaurant menus and also at cicchetti bars. Cicchetti are small portions of food, usually eaten standing at a bar anytime between breakfast and dinner. Cicchetti are similar to the Spanish Tapas and can be had as an entire meal or as a snack between meals.

At most fruit and vegetable vendors in Venice you will see these fondi sitting in a tub of lemon water. The cheapest ones are by far to be found at the Rialto markets. There’s also a good chance you will see a grocer cutting up and peeling the artichoke to reveal the base of the heart. These artichokes are a little too tough to use in any other way. The leaves are unusable and there is way too much hair to bother with. So forget all that and go for the pure flesh.

foni cu

This fruit and vegetable vendor at Rialto markets in Venice peels 2000 artichokes per week. This is just one of them.
Check this video to see how to prepare artichoke bottoms.

For step by step instructions click here for Artichoke bottoms.

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