Growing up in an Italian family gave me early exposure to this wonderful delicacy. They were served at many of our holiday celebrations. The first time I actually saw an artichoke in its natural state was during a trip to Provence a few years ago. We were staying at a lovely old country house where there were artichokes growing in the garden. Quite a different site from what I was accustomed to seeing in my local grocery store.
When preparing artichokes, I steam them in a few inches of water with olive oil and salt added to the water. They take about an hour to cook, and are ready when you can easily pull out one of the middle leaves. I make a olive oil, garlic and butter sauce which I pour over the artichoke (loosen the leaves a little first) then sprinkle with grated