Jewish Fried Artichokes | Family Cuisine

How to Fry Artichokes is a book that provides detailed instructions on how to prepare and cook artichokes. The author, Elizabeth Karmel, has been cooking for over thirty years and has learned the best ways of cooking many dishes

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How to fry artichokes

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Italians, particularly Jewish Italians, are somewhat responsible for pushing artichokes into global popularity. In his Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, historian Gil Marks explains that Italian Jews favored artichokes early on, while non-Jewish Italians showed distaste for them, often referring to them as “the Jewish vegetables.” In the 1500s, Pope Paul IV forced all the Jews in Rome to live within a secluded ghetto where food and water were scarce. Out of necessity, frying over an open fire became a popular cooking method. Artichokes, which were one of the few plentiful food sources, were eaten fried. Over time, the artichoke gained favor with all Italians, including the Medicis of Florence. Catherine de Medici, who was known for her insatiable appetite, brought artichokes to France when she married Henry II. Until this time, they were considered something of a novelty.

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Artichokes are my favorite vegetable, and may very well be my favorite food. As you might imagine, I’ve cooked and eaten them in a multitude of ways. The most surprising preparation I’ve ever tasted, and perhaps the most delicious, was first served to me at an Italian restaurant in Miami Beach, Florida. This dish, known as carciofi alla giudea or artichokes “Jewish style,” has roots in Pope Paul IV’s Jewish ghetto. In Italy the dish is usually made with Romanesco artichokes, which are purple, more tender and less thorny than the globe artichokes commonly available in America. To replicate the texture of the Romanesco version of this dish, I took a tip from the restaurant’s chef and steamed my globe artichokes lightly before frying. I also split the artichokes in half, which allows them to cook faster and more evenly (it also makes them easier to eat!). I sliced the leaves close to the heart, which resulted in a pretty flower-like crown on top. The result was divine—a perfectly crisp golden exterior with a tender, slightly sweet inner heart. It’s a flavor symphony. Mangia!

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Note: Strictly kosher Jews have their own guidelines for cleaning and consuming artichokes, which differ from the tutorials that appear on my site. If you’re concerned, you can learn more on the OK website.

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