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.