No. 9 in a Series of 253,486.
ARTICHOKE (Cynara). The artichoke is a member of the hedgehog family, which also includes porcupines, cacti, and pincushions. The whole family is one of the unfortunate results of the curse placed on Adam and Eve for their sin. Artichokes, however, are the most vicious in a family of vicious punishments, for they give us abundant evidence that the Creator, or the angelic forces responsible for implementing his disciplinary decrees, had a cruel and ironical sense of humor. There is a certain amount of palatable food in an artichoke globe, if one is willing to risk serious injury and put in the time and effort required to get at it. In fact, roughly four per cent of the artichoke head is edible. The rest is a kind of protective armor system intended to prevent the edible part from ever reaching the herbed butter or mayonnaise that is by right its destiny. That such an armor can exist is sure evidence of cruelly intelligent design.
Archaeologists believe that the first attempts at eating artichokes were made in the late Stone Age. Certain cave sites in North Africa have yielded semi-fossilized remains of artichokes alongside the remains of the humans who died while attempting to eat them. Later attempts were little more successful, and indeed a particularly severe Roman law (the so-called lex cynaritica) prescribed death by artichoke as punishment for anyone caught violating the strict food-adulteration laws that obtained at the time of the late Republic. It was not until the Middle Ages that artichokes were first successfully eaten, and indeed the fact that they are usually consumed without incident today is one of the triumphs of human technology.
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JOIN DR. BOLI’S fight to have the dandelion adopted as the national flower of the United States of America! The dandelion ideally reflects the American story: it is a plant that came from Europe and within a few decades had stolen all the best land from the natives. Watch this space for more details about what you can do to further this great cause!