All about Artichoke > A Short History of the Artichoke

Mythology recounts that Jupiter fell madly in love with Cynara, a beautiful girl with ash blond hair, who rejected him: to punish her, he decided to transform her into Cynara scolymus, the artichoke.

Grown for thousands of years in Mediterranean regions, artichokes were found on the tables of the Greeks and Romans. Thanks to the gourmandise of Catherine de Médicis, the artichoke was brought across the Alps to France, despite the advice of court physicians who forbade the eating of this aphrodisiac which they said produced terrible effects on the mind!

Catherine had “bétilles” prepared for her: little pâté filled pastries containing artichokes, not to mention cock’s combs and kidneys… despite this - or perhaps because of it - artichokes were long considered a costly luxury.

The artichoke was introduced into Louisiana by the French and into California by the Spanish. It is found in Chile as well as in the pampas of Buenos Aires.

Artichokes and the Summer Solstice

When spring gives way to summer, people remember what they owe to the light and fire, and let their joy release into the streets, around the fires of joy where the air is filled with the good scent of grilled sardines and the noise of the fireworks serves as a backdrop to the song of love. Amongst the most ancient of popular beliefs is a tale of the artichoke: a wild artichoke picked before it flowered, a kind of thistle covered in prickles that was roasted over the open fire on June 13, feast of St. Anthony, patron of Lisbon. If the thoughts you direct towards your beloved coincident with the beloved’s thoughts towards you, then the artichoke planted in the ground will display a pretty blue-mauve flower the next day, symbol of a blossoming love: this is the blue flower of the alcachofra.

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