1937: How to Eat an Artichoke

Every year (for the last 8 or 9 years) I jointly host an artichoke party (yes, really) with friends Art and Lucille. We order the ‘chokes from Pezzini Farms in Castroville, California and gorge with friends and family for hours on end. The big event was yesterday. Loads of fun, as usual.

The early years of the party were child-free. Now it’s quite the family event, with tons of fabulous kids running around. We were joking that the artichokes must truly have something to do with it, for they are an aphrodisiac, as I’ve reported before. Ooh la la!

Dying to learn some etiquette about artichoke eating? Lucky for you, some friends at the party presented me with a binder of artichoke facts, copies of patents for artichoke holders and slicers, and this quote which was attributed to Lewis Carroll: “It is always allowable to ask for artichoke jelly with your boiled venison; however there are houses where this is not supplied.” Um, like my house! While that one is not terribly useful for everyday artichoke eating, this, from Margery Wilson’s The New Etiquette (1937) might be:

At a formal dinner when artichokes are served, the leaves are removed in the kitchen and only the heart is left, which may be eaten with a fork. But in informal service the whole artichoke is served. If it is meant to be a salad it will be cold and the sauce will be cold. If it is served hot with drawn butter, the butter will be in a dish to one side. The leaves are taken off one at a time with the fingers, the thick, lower part of the leaf is dipped in the sauce or butter and only the soft part at the bottom will be bitten off. The leaf is then laid on the side of the dish and the next one taken until the heart is reached. Then, with a knife, one cuts off the top fuzzy part from the heart and finishes the heart with a fork.


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