Here’s a bunch of mostly wild flowers from south Italy. Which ones do you recognize?
A balcony is not just a balcony. In Grottaglie, for instance, most balconies carry a fortune.
In south Italy self-sown fig trees grow on every bare patch of dry red earth.
Writer Pablo Naruda noticed artichokes resemble soldiers, but behind the hard, combative exterior they hide a tender heart. See how to preserve artichokes
Right now farmers offer bunches of 20 home grown artichokes for 3 Euros from the backs of trucks parked on every other street corner and the price is falling steadily. A sure sign that harvest will soon be over and that it we should get to work, if we want to preserve the delicate thistle flowers to serve with pizza, panini, frittata or antipasto the rest of the year.
In Northern Europe artichokes are sold for 1-2 Euros a piece, which may explain why so many people prefer to buy the canned version. Cans are also much easier to open than the real flower, and you avoid getting your hands blackened and sore from the juices and throwing two-thirds of the plant in the garbage. But taste wise freshly cooked artichokes are so much better.
As the Chilean writer Pablo Naruda noticed, artichokes resemble soldiers when they are marched up in market stalls, but behind the hard, combative exterior they hide a tender heart. The tenderness becomes evident, when the prickly flowers meet Maria, who strips them of their armour and drowns them in a casserole.
2 cloves of garlic
4 springs of fresh mint
100 ml vinegar
1 ltr water
If possible go outside with the artichokes and a bowl of lemon water. Put on a pair of rubber gloves (otherwise the hands get very black and sore) and strip the leaves off the artichokes until you see the ivory coloured, meaty interior. Cut off the stem and the top of the flower, and scrape out the centre for the flimsy hair. As soon as you have finished submerge the artichoke in lemon water, and continue with the next flower.
Boil the artichokes for 20 minutes in salty water and vinegar.
Put the boiled artichokes in clean jars. Add a clove of garlic and s spring of fresh mint to each jar, and cover with the boiling liquid. Close each jar with a tight fitting lid and preserve artichokes will keep for at least 3 months.
Other pickles than preserved artichokes:
Helen Hunt Jackson’s poem about Poppies on the wheat and splashes of spring that inevitably brings springtime in Italy and along Ancona hills to mind.