I've eaten--and loved--artichokes all my life, first as a special treat growing up on the East Coast then as a biweekly pleasure as an adult living in the SFBA, not too long a drive from Castroville, at the edge of the Monterey Peninsula, where much of country's artichokes grow..
I certainly encountered Euro-style 'chokes now and again, more recently than in years past, but never cared for their bitterness and lack of meatiness.
In the past couple of years though, without letting on, artichoke growers seem to have switched to a thornless variety--let's dub it "the checker's friend"--which, unless you examine it closely, looks much the same. The only readily noticeable difference is a split at the top of the leaves where the thorns are supposed to be. It also tends to be lightly tinged with purple.
I've even been misled into buying this variety several times as a "starts," though they were clearly labeled "Globe." Of course, since life loves to play little jokes, they grow really well in my San Francisco garden, which means--as most gardeners will understand--I can't bring myself to pull them! But, alas, they lack the succulence and flavor of their eponymous predecessors.
The only produce item I buy that is not organically raised is arts, because almost all the organic ones are the less-enjoyable, above-described variety. Now, even Trader Joe's formerly reliable "conventional" artichokes are this new kind. Let me make clear these are not organic, just a switch to the variety that previosuly was available only as organic.
In our house we've always fought over the stems, which, when trimmed of the outer "skin," had the same flavor and almost the same texture as the delectable artichoke heart. The new kind's stems are stringier, and like the rest of the thistle, nowhere near as delectable.
HELP! What's an artichoke-lover to do?