The sight of artichokes in the summer months is a delight for any self-respecting foodie. But did you know there’s more than one variety of globe artichoke?
The Camus Breton is recognisable by its matte, grey-green leaves and its rounded shape. Best eaten steamed, its heart is melt-in-the-mouth, finely-fleshed perfection. The Violet de Provence, on the other hand, is conical in shape and has small leaves tinged with green and purple. It is excellent raw, drizzled with a hint of vinaigrette. Again, it melts in the mouth and has a rich, buttery flavour.
Other varieties to look out for and pop in your panier if you spy them include Castel, Calico, Blanc Hyérois, Macau, Salambo and Violet de Gapeau. And, of course, there’s the famous Roussillon artichoke, which has been granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in recognition of its excellent terroir and strict production rules.
To make sure you’re picking up a good specimen, check that the leaves are not spotted with black and tightly packed together as this means the artichoke is overripe. The leaves should be slightly fleshy and the stem moist, a guarantee of freshness.
Artichokes are mainly grown in Brittany, but also in parts of Occitanie. Last year, some 21,549 tonnes were harvested in France.
So off to market and enjoy your summer supper of artichokes!