Artichoke

 Artichokes

Soak them in cold water, wash them well; put them into plenty of boiling water, with a handful of salt, and let them boil gently for an hour and a half or two hours: trim them and drain on a sieve; send up melted butter with them, which some put into small cups, one for each guest. 


Of Hartichoakes

How to make a Hartichoake Pye

Boyle your Hartichoakes, take off all the leaves, pull out all the strings, leaving only the bottoms, then season them with Cinamon  and Sugar, laying between every Hartichoake  a good piece of Butter; and when you put your Pye into the Oven, stick the Hartichoakes  with slices of Dates, and put a quarter of a pint of White-wine into the Pye, and when you take it out of the Oven, doe the like againe, with some butter, and sugar, and Rose-water, melting the butter upon some coales, before you put it into the Pye.

To keep Hartichoakes for all the yeare

The fittest time is about Michaelmas, and then according to the proportion of Hartichoakes  you will keep, seeth a quantity of water in a pot or pan, seasoning it so with white salt that it may have a reasonable tast, then put a fit quantity of white salt into the water, and boyle them together, and scum them well; then put a good quantity of good Vineger  to them, to make the liquor somewhat sharp, and boyle it again, then parboyle your Hartichoakes  that you mind to keep, in another liquor, take them out of it, and let them coole, then set your first liquor againe on the fire to boyle, and scumming it throughly, let it coole againe; when it is throughly cold, put it up in some firkin, or large earthen pot, and put in your Hartichoakes  to them handsomely, for bruising them; then cover them close from the aire, and so keep them to spend at your pleasure.

To Preserve Hartichoakes

Heat water scalding hot first, then put in your Hartichoakes  and scald them, and take away all the bottomes, and leaves about them, then take Rose water  and Sugar  and boyle them alone a little while, then put the Hartichoakes  therein, and let them boyle on a soft fire till they be tender enough, let them be covered all the time they boyle, then take them out and put them up for your use.

To make a maid dish of Hartechoakes

Take your Hartichoakes  and pare away all the top, even to the Meat, and boyle them in sweet Broth till they be somewhat tender, then take them oat, and put them in a dish, and seeth them with Pepper, Cinamon, and Ginger, then put them in the dish you mean to bake them in and put in marrow to them good store, and so let them bake, and when they be baked, put in a little Vineger  and Butter, and stick three or four leaves of the Hartichoakes  in the dish when you serve them up, and scrape Sugar upon the dish.

That I might be able to investigate whether our artichoke was known to the ancients, I have not only collected a variety of scattered passages, compared them with one another and with nature, and laboured through a tedious multitude of contradictions and a confusion of names, but I have also been obliged to examine a load of groundless conjectures, heaped together by commentators 596 , in order that I might understand them and ascertain their value. By these means I have learned more than seems hitherto to have been known; and I have found that more is believed than can be proved; but that the fruits of my toil will give complete satisfaction to my readers, I do not pretend to hope. Before the botany, however, and the natural history in general of the ancients can be properly elucidated, before truth can be separated from falsehood, what is certain from what is uncertain, and things defined from those which are undefined, researches of this kind must be undertaken, and the same method as that which I have followed must be adopted.

The names of plants in ancient authors which have been applied to our artichoke, are the following: Cinara,CarduusScolymus, and Cactus.

The Cinara, which is originally a Greek word, belonged certainly to the thistle species; and the description of its top, as given by Columella 597 , seems, as has already been remarked by Nonnius 598  and others, to agree perfectly with that of our artichoke. The cinara  was commonly furnished with prickles, but that was preferred which had lost them by cultivation, and for which means were prescribed that did not produce the desired effect 599. It was raised from seed sown in spring, but was propagated also from slips or shoots which in Italy wereplanted in autumn, that they might bear earlier the next summer 600. The direction given to water these plants frequently, is still followed by our gardeners in respect to their artichokes, and they expect from this attention that the fruit will be more abundant and tender. By this method many give to their artichokes a superiority which others that have not been watered so carefully cannot attain. A complaint, which occurs in ancient authors, is also prevalent, that the roots are often destroyed by mice. I do not, however, find it remarked what part of the cinara was properly used, but it may be conjectured it was the top, because the tender fruit is praised 601.

Carduus, among the Romans, was the common name of all plants of the thistle kind. It occurs among those of weeds 602 , and may be then properly translated by the word thistle. It, however, often signified an eatable thistle; and this has given Pliny occasion to make use of an insipid piece of raillery, when he says that luxury prepared as food for man what would not be eaten by cattle.

It is an old and common fault, that when the Greek and Roman authors have not given us such descriptions of natural objects as are sufficient to enable us to ascertain exactly what they are, we suppose that they have been known under different names, and a variety of characteristics are drawn together to enable us to determine them. What, for example, we find respecting the cinara  is too little to give a just idea of the plant; we read somewhat more of the carduus ; and because between these there seems to be an affinity, it is concluded that the cinara  and the carduus  were the same plant; and everything told us respecting both of them is thrown into one. Some even go further, and add what they find under a third or a fourth name. It is indeed true, that many natural objects have had several names, and the species may sometimes be rightly guessed; but conjecture ought never to be admittedunless the identity can be fully established; else one may form such a monstrous production as Horace has delineated, when he says,

Humano capiti cervicem pictor equinam
Jungere si velit, et varias inducere plumas,
Undique collatis membris—

I wish commentators would follow the example of our naturalists, who consider a plant as a distinct species until it has been proved on sure grounds that it is nothing else than a variety of a plant already characterized. I should not therefore affirm that the cinara  and the carduus  are the same, were I not able to produce the following incontestable proofs in support of my assertion.

In the first place, the Latins, Palladius and Pliny, give us the same account of the carduus  that Columella and the Greeks do of the cinara. The former lost its prickles through cultivation 603 ; its flowers were also of a purple colour 604 ; it was propagated by seed and by shoots; it required frequent watering; and it was remarked that it throve better when the earth was mixed with ashes. Had not the carduus  and the cinara  been the same, Palladius and Pliny would have mentioned the latter; for we cannot suppose that they otherwise would have omitted a plant that formed a dish so much esteemed and so well-known among their countrymen. The latter claims to himself the merit of having passed over no one that was held in estimation. In the second place, Virgil has translated the word cynaros  in a part of Sophocles now lost, by carduus 605 ; thirdly, Athenæus says expressly, that the cinara  was by the Latins named cardus  and carduus 606 ; and, lastly, the old glossaries explain cinara  by carduus, as we are told by Salmasius. On these grounds, therefore, I am of opinion that the cinara  and the carduus  were the same.

We are informed by Apicius 607  and Pliny 608  in what manner the carduus  was dressed by the ancient cooks. The latter gives directions for pickling it in vinegar; but neither of them tells us what part of it was eaten. Lister thinks that Apicius speaks of the tops of the young shoots, which, as far as I know, are parts of the artichoke never eaten at present. It is, however, worthy of remark, that the tops (turiones ) of certain kinds of the thistle family of plants, and among these the common burr 609 , are in some countries dressed and eaten like asparagus. It is not improbable also that Pliny and Apicius may have meant the ribs of the leaves; though none of the ancients has taught us the art of binding up, covering with earth, and blanching the cinara  or carduus. This, perhaps, was a new invention of the gardeners; and the cooks may have had other methods of rendering the ribs of the leaves tender and eatable. Had they meant the bottom of the calyx, they would not have omitted to give a circumstantial account of the preparation previous to its being pickled.

The Scolymus  is by Pliny and Theophrastus reckoned to belong to the genus of the thistles. The former says, that, like most others of the same kind, the seeds were covered by a sort of wool (pappus ). It had a high stem, surrounded with leaves, which were prickly, but which ceased to sting when the plant withered 610. It flowered the whole summer through, and had often flowers and ripe seed at the same time; which is the case also with our artichoke plants. The calyx of the scolymus  was not prickly 611 ; the root was thick, black and sweet, and contained a milky juice. It was eaten both raw and cooked; and Theophrastus observes, as something very remarkable, that when the plant was in flower, or, as others explain the words, when it had finished blowing, it was most palatable. What renders this circumstance singular is, that most milky roots used for food lose their milk and become unfit to be eaten as soon as they have blown. This is the case with the goat's beard, which is eatable only the first year.

The scolymus  however is not the only plant which forms an exception; for the garden Scorzonera retains its milk, and continues eatable after it has bloomed, and as long as it has milk it may be used. According to Theophrastus and Pliny, the roots of the scolymus  are eatable. On the other hand, Dioscorides says that the roots were not eaten, but the young leaves only: as he informs us, however, that they were dressed like asparagus, it would appear that he meant the young shoots 612. Theophrastus expressly tells us, that, besides the roots, the flowers also were used as food; and he calls that which was eatable the pulpy part. We have, therefore, full proof that the ancients ate the tops of some plants in the same manner as we eat our artichokes.

It may however be asked, what kind of a plant was the scolymus ? That it was different from the cinara  is undoubtedly certain; for Dioscorides 613  expressly distinguishes them; nor was it the eatable carduus, for Pliny compares it with the carduus, and says that it was characterized from the latter by having roots fit to be eaten. Stapel is of opinion that the scolymus  is our artichoke; but this seems to me improbable, for the leaves and roots of the latter are not sweet, but harsh and bitter, and the calyx is prickly, which was not the case in the scolymus  of Theophrastus. Besides, I find nothing in the whole description of the scolymus  or in the accounts given us by the ancients of the cinara  and carduus, that can be applied to our artichoke alone, and not to any other plant. It may be here replied, that it would be very difficult to ascertain plants from the names of the ancients, were such strong proofs required, because they had not the art of separating the different genera correctly, and of assigning to each certain characterizing marks. This I allow; and for that reason it is impossible to elucidate properly the Greek and Latin names of plants; but, in my opinion, it is better to confess this impossibility, than to deceive oneself with distant probabilities. Let the genus be ascertained when one cannot ascertain the species; let the order to which the plant belongs be determined when one cannot determine the genus; or, at least, let the class be assigned when there is sufficient authority to do so. The cinaracarduus  and scolymus  were therefore species of the thistle, of which the roots and young shoots, and also the bottom of the calyx of the last, were eaten. Were I appointed or condemned to form a new Latin dictionary, I should explain the article Scolymus  in the following manner:—Planta composita, capitata. Caulis longus, obsitus foliis spinosis. Radix carnosa, lactescens, nigra, dulcis, edulis. Calyx squamis inermibus, disco carnoso, ante efflorescentiam eduli. Semina papposa. Turiones edules. This description, short as it is, contains every thing that the ancients have said in order to characterize that plant. It can, indeed, be understood only by those who are acquainted with the terms of botany; but what follows will require no explanation or defining of botanical names.

Should it be said that the scolymus  must be our artichoke because no other plant of the thistle kind is known the bottom of the calyx of which is eatable, I would in answer observe:—First, other species may have been known in ancient times, which perhaps have been disused and forgotten since the more pleasant and delicious artichoke became known. It is certain that many old plants have in this manner been banished from our gardens by the introduction of new ones. Thus have common alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum ) fallen into neglect since celery was made known by the Italians, about the end of the seventeenth century; and so at present has the cultivation of winter-cresses (Erysimum barbarea ), bulbous-rooted chærophyllum (Chærophyllum bulbosum ), rocket (Brassica eruca ), and others, been abandoned since better vegetables have been obtained to supply their place. Secondly, it is certain that, even at present, the bottom of the calyx of some others of the thistle-kind, besides the genus of the artichoke, is eaten; such as the cotton-thistle (Onopordum acanthium ), and the carline thistle (Carlina acaulis ), without mentioning the sun-flowers which has been brought to us in modern times from South America.

Without engaging to examine all the hypotheses of commentators and ancient botanists on this subject, I shall take notice of one conjecture, which, upon mature consideration, appears to have some probability. Clusius 614  is of opinion that the plant called by the botanists of the seventeenth century Carduus chrysanthemus, and by those of the present age Scolymus hispanicus, the golden thistle, is the scolymus  of Theophrastus; because its leaves, beset with white prickles, and its pulpy, sweet, milky roots are eaten, and excel in taste all roots whatever, even those of skirret; and because it was collected and sold in Spain, Italy, and Greece. But what has principally attracted my attention to this conjecture, is the account of Bellon 615 , that this plant in Crete or Candia is called still by the Greeks there ascolymbros. This name seems to have arisen from scolymos ; and besides Stapel 616  found in an old glossary the word ascolymbros. I am likewise convinced that, as Tournefort 617  has said, the botany of the ancients would be much illustrated and rendered more certain, were the names used by the modern Greeks known. It is certain that many old names have been preserved till the present time with little variation; but nevertheless I can as little admit the assertion of Clusius as that of Stapel; for Scolymus hispanicus  has neither the bottom of the calyx pulpy, nor wool adhering to the seeds, like the scolymus  of Theophrastus; and the young roots only can be eaten, because, like those of most plants of the genus of the thistle, they lose their milk when the flower is in bloom; lastly, the leaves retain their power of pricking, even after they have become withered.

The fourth name which, with any kind of probability, has been translated by the word artichoke is cactus. This plant, which, in the time of Theophrastus and Pliny, grew only in Sicily and not in Greece, had broad prickly leaves 618 ; the flower was filled with a kind of wool, which, when eaten inadvertently, was pernicious 619 ; the calyx was prickly: and, besides a long stem, it shot forth branches which crept along the ground 620 , and which, when the outer rind had been peeled off, were eaten either fresh, or pickled in salt water 621. The bottom of the calyx of this plant was likewise used, after it had been freed from its seeds and woolly substance 622. It had a great resemblance to the pith of the palm-tree 623.

That the cactus  was different from the scolymus  we are expressly told by Theophrastus; and Pliny also distinguishes them both from each other and from the carduus. Athenæus 624  is the only author who says that the cactus  and the cinara  were the same; but he gives no other proof than a very simple etymology. It must therefore be admitted that the cactus  was a species of the thistle kind entirely different from any of the former.

I think I have proved, therefore, that the Greeks and the Romans used the pulpy bottom of the calyx, and the most tender stalks and young shoots of some plants reckoned to belong to the thistle kind, in the same manner as we use artichokes and cardoons; and that the latter were unknown to them. It appears to me probable that the use of these plants, at least in Italy and Europe in general, was in the course of time laid aside and forgotten, and that the artichoke, when it was first brought to Italy from the Levant, was considered as a new species of food. It is undoubtedly certain that our artichoke was first known in that country in the fifteenth century. Hermolaus Barbarus, who died in 1494, relates that this plant was first seen at Venice in a garden in 1473, at which time it was very scarce 625. About the year 1466, one of the family of Strozzi brought the first artichokes to Florence from Naples 626. Politian, in a letter in which he describes the dishes he found at a grand entertainment in Italy in 1488, among these mentions artichokes 627. They were introduced into France in the beginning of the sixteenth century 628 ; and into England in the reign of Henry the Eighth 629.

Respecting the origin of the name various conjectures have been formed, none of which, in my opinion, are founded even on probability. Hermolaus Barbarus, Henry Stephen, Ruellius, Heresbach, and others think that artichoke  or artichaut, as it is called by the French, and arciocco  by the Italians, is derived from the Greek word coccalus, which signifies a fircone, with the Arabic article al  prefixed, from which was formed alcocalon, and afterwards the name now used 630. This etymology is contradicted by Salmasius 631 , who denies that coccalus  had ever that signification. He remarks also that artichokes were by the Arabs called harsafharxaf, or harchiaf ; and he seems not disinclined to derive the name from these appellations 632. Grotius, Bodæus, and some others, derive it from a Greek word 633 , which occurs in Alexander Trallianus, and which is supposed to signify our plant; but that word is to be found in this author alone, and in him only once; so that the idea of these critics appears to me very improbable. Frisch affirms, in his dictionary, that our modern name is formed from carduus  and scolymus  united.Ihre 634  considers the first part of the name as the German word erde  (the earth), because it is often pronounced erdschoke ; but I rather think that the Germans changed the foreign word arti  into the word erde, which was known to them, in the same manner as of tartuffolo  we have made erdtoffeln 635 ; besides, Ihre leaves the latter part unexplained 636. In the seventeenth century the plant was often called Welsch distel  (Italian thistle), because the seeds were procured from Italy, and also Strobeldorn, a word undoubtedly derived from strobilus.

Were the original country of the artichoke really known, the etymology of the name, perhaps, might be easily explained. Linnæus says that it grew wild in Narbonne, Italy, and Sicily, and the cardoons in Crete; but, in my opinion, the information respecting the latter has been taken only from the above-quoted passage of Bellon, which is improperly supposed to allude to the artichoke. As far as I know, it was not found upon that island either by Tournefort or any other traveller. Garidel, however, mentions the artichoke under the name given it by Bauhin,cinara sylvestris latifolia, among the plants growing wild in Provence; but later authors assure us that they sought for it there in vain 637. I shall here remark that the artichoke is certainly known in Persia; but Tavernier says expressly that it was carried thither, like asparagus, and other European vegetables of the kitchen-garden, by the Carmelite and other monks; and that it was only in later times that it became common 638.

Footnotes

596  See Stapel, über die Pflanzen des Theophrast. p. 618. Salmasius ad Solinum, p. 159. Casauboni Animadv. in Athen. Lugd. 1621, fol. p. 146. Bauhini Hist. Plant. iii. p. 48.

597  Colum. lib. x. ver. 235.

598  Lud. Nonnii Diæteticon. Antv. 1646, 4to, p. 56.

599  It was said, that if the corners of the seeds were bruised, no prickles would be produced. See Geopon. lib. xii. cap. 39. [It is a well-known physiological fact in botany, that many plants which are naturally spinous, when cultivated in gardens or rich soil, become unarmed. The production of spines seems to arise from an imperfect development of the growing point of a plant; when this development is increased by the greater supply of nutriment, the spines disappear, their places being supplied by a branch having leaves. We have instances of this in the apple, pear, &c., which are naturally spinous.]

600  Geopon. l. c. Columella, xi. cap. 3.

601  Geopon. 925, where repeated watering is directed; it is said you will then have tenderer fruit, and in more abundance.

602  Virgil. Geor. i. 150. Plin. xviii. cap. 17.

603  Palladius, iv. 9, p. 934, and lib. xi. Octob. p. 987. In the first-mentioned place he gives the same direction for preventing prickles, as that quoted respecting the cinara.

604  Pliny, lib. xx. says, “The wind easily carries away the withered flowers on account of their woolly nature.”

605  Κύναρος ἄκανθα πάντα πληθύει γύην.—Sophocles, in Phœnice.

... Segnisque horreret in arvis
Carduus...—Virgil. Georg. i. 50.

606  Athen. Deipnos. at the end of the second book, p. 70. Salmasius, in his Remarks on Solinus, p. 159, is of opinion that Athenæus wrote κάρδον, not κάρδυον; and the Latins not carduus, but cardus.

607  Lib. iii. cap. 19.

608  Lib. xix. cap. 8.

609  Arctium Lappa, an indigenous weed, difficult to be rooted out. Elsholz, in his Gartenbau, speaking of the Spanish cardoons, says, “The strong stem of the large burr, Arctium Lappa, may be dressed in the same manner, and is not much different in taste.” See also Thomas Moufet's Health's Improvement. Lond. 1746, 8vo, p. 217.

610  Plin. lib. xxi. cap. 16.

611  Theophrastus: “Conceptus non spinosus, sed oblongus.” But Dioscorides says, “Capitulum spinosum.” This contradiction, and other small variations, have induced some to consider the scolymus  of Theophrastus and that of Dioscorides as two different plants.

612  Dioscor. iii. 16.

613  Dioscor. lib. iii. cap. 10, where he says of a plant that its leaves were like those of the Scolymus, and its stem like that of the Cinara.

614  Rariorum Plantarum Historiæ, lib. iv. p. 153.

615  “In Crete there is a kind of prickly plant, which in the common Greek idiom is generally called ascolimbros. The ancient Latins called it also by a Greek name, glycyrrhizon, though different from glycyrrhiza  (liquorice). It grows everywhere spontaneously, has a yellow flower, and abounds with a milky juice. The roots and leaves are usually eaten before it shoots up into a stem. We saw it exposed for sale with other herbs in the market-place of Ravenna, and at Ancona, where the women who were digging it up, gave it the name of riuci. We saw it gathered also in the Campagna di Roma, where the inhabitants called it spinaborda. This is the plant which by the modern Greeks is named ascolimbros.”—Bellonii Observationes, lib. i. cap. 18. “In Crete it is called ascolymbros, and in Lemnos scombrouolo, that is scombri carduus. This thistle abounds with a milky juice, like succory, has a yellow flower, and is excellent eating; so that I know no root cultivated in gardens which can be compared to it in taste, the parsnip not even excepted.”

616  Theophrast. Hist. Plant. p. 620. The figure which Stapel gives, p. 621, is not of the Scolymus hispanicus, but of Scolymus maculatus. It is taken from Clusius, who has also a figure of the former.

617  “I considered the heads of these poor Greeks as so many living inscriptions, which preserve to us the names mentioned by Dioscorides and Theophrastus. Though liable to different variations, they will, doubtless, be more lasting than the hardest marble, because they are every day renewed, whereas marble is effaced or destroyed. Inscriptions of this kind will preserve, therefore, to future ages the names of several plants known to those skilful Greeks who lived in happier and more learned times.”—Voyage du Levant, i. p. 34. Compare with the above what Haller says in his Biblioth. Botan. i. p. 28.

618  Plin. lib. xxi. cap. 16. See Theophrast. lib. vi. cap. 4. Theoocritus, Idyll. x. 4, mentions a lamb wounded in the foot by a cactus. Tertullian names this plant among prickly weeds, together with the rubus, in the end of the second chapter of that unintelligible book De Pallio. De la Cerda, in his excellent edition of Opera Tertulliani, Lutetiæ Paris. 1624, 2 vols. fol. i. p. 13, reads carecto  instead of cacto ; but Salmasius, in his edition of that work, p. 172, has sufficiently vindicated the latter.

619  Dioscorid. Alexipharm. cap. 33.

620  Theoph. p. 613.

621  The creeping branches were in particular called cacti, the upright stem pternix.

622  Theophrastus calls the bottom of the calyx περικάρπιον, a word which is still retained in botany. But he also says that the same part of the cactus  was called also σκαλία; from which is derived the ascalia  of Pliny. Galen calls it σπόνδυλον.

623  Theoph. This term is explained by Pliny, lib. xiii. c. 4:—“Dulcis medulla palmarum in cacumine, quod cerebrum appellant.”

624  Athen. Deipnos. at the end of the second book, p. 70. He gives everything to be found in Theophrastus; but either the author or some of his transcribers have so confused what he says, that it is almost unintelligible.

625  Herm. Barbar. ad Dioscor. iii. 15.

626  Manni de Florentinis inventis commentarium, p. 34.

627  Politiani Opera. Lugd. 1533, 8vo, p. 444.

628  Ruellius De Natura Stirpium. Bas. 1543, fol. p. 485.

629  Hakluyt, vol. ii. p. 164. Biographia Britannica, vol. iv. p. 2462; and Anderson's History of Commerce.

630  Herm. Barbarus, in his Observations on Dioscorides.

631  Salmas. ad Solin. p. 160.

632  It is remarked in Golius's Dictionary, p. 597, that this word signifies also the scales of a fish, and the strong scales of the calyx of the plant may have given rise to the name.

633  The Greek word is αρτυτική.

634  Glossarium Suiogothicum, i. p. 411.

635  Potatoes.

636  A variety of derivations may be found in Menage's Dictionnaire Etymologique.

637  See Rozier, Cours Complet d'Agriculture, vol. ii. p. 14.

638  See his Travels. Geneva, 1681, fol. p. 164.