Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Take Some Wild Thistles ….

I have never eaten cardoons. I know a little about them, of course, but it is all theoretical. Now that I have realised this, deficit in my life, eating cardoons is on my A list, which I prefer to call my TTT-list (Things To Try list). I don’t remember ever seeing cardoons at any of the Brisbane farmers’ markets, but perhaps this will change now that they are on my curiosity radar.

I did consider the cardoon in a post a long time ago (here), but this week I am seeking vegetable inspiration from Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery, or, the Kitchen-Garden display’d, published in 1744. What does this lovely book have to give us on cardoons (which it calls chardoons) ? Four recipes, as it turns out – which is four more than any of the high profile celebrity chef cookery books that have ended up on my bookshelves over the last few years. How come we keep losing vegetable recipes from our cookery portfolios?

A couple of the recipes are quite substantial – chardoons with cheese, and one with bacon and marrow and more cheese, and one is for buttered chardoons. I am going to give you the first one in the book, which shows that if you prepare them right, they can substitute for asparagus, or even peas.

Chardoons Fried and Butter’d.
They are a wild Thistle that grows in every Ditch or Hedge. You must cut them about ten Inches, string them, tie them up twenty in a Bundle, and boil them like Asparagus: Or you may cut them in small Bits, and boil them as Pease, and toss them up with Pepper, Salt, and melted Butter.

Quotation for the Day.
I am better off with vegetables at the bottom of my garden than with all the fairies of the Midsummer Night's Dream.
Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) 'Lord, I Thank Thee'


Marisa Raniolo Wilkins said...

Hi Janet. I have bought cardoons at The Queen Victoria market and have two posts on my blog with photographs.
All readers are welcome to look! Cardoons in Italian are called Cardi.

The Old Foodie said...

Excellent, thank you Marisa. You will cook some for me next time I come to visit?
how is the book going?

Fay said...

Hi Janet,
Cardoons. Never seen them either.
I have a couple of books with recipes in them, including a lamb and cardoon tagine and Stephanie Alexander has a slim selection in her Cooks Companion.
In the pictures they look like spindly globe artichokes in the garden. In the cooked dish it sort of looks pretty much like celery.
I suppose the High Profile Celebrity chefs have to produce recipes for items that are available reasonably easily. I have read articles about the frustrations of home cooks being unable to source ingredients asked for in some tomes. But then was it any easier in Mrs Beeton's Day? "First catch your hare..."

Anonymous said...

I grow cardoons. They're tasty, but very, very thorny. Also, you have to harvest them when the weather is cold else they're bitter.

carolina said...

I'm always amazed at the number of people, including many of those so-called "experts," who think no one ate vegetables during ANY previous century. And yet,
here's a receipt (recipe) from the early 18th century for cardoons, which is not only a vegetable, but is one that people nowadays rarely see or eat...let alone have heard of! So yes, they ate vegetables, including a host of ones that are virtual "unknowns" today. Or, at the very least, that can't be found in our local Big Chain grocery stores.

kathleen said...


Good Day,You really have a great info here.i like it very much


Unknown said...

Interestingly "Cardons" (french version of the name) are still extremely popular in Geneva, Switzerland. They are a standard vegetable, grown locally, and a default part of the Christmas dinner. Usually served cut in short chunks, blanched and with a white sauce, but can also be just in butter.

link is in french but has many pictures of the plant being grown

Marcheline said...

My cottage is named "Thistlebright" so this post especially appealed to me. Had no idea people ate thistles, except for the thistle tea that I had once... it was the most bitter tea I'd ever tasted! I imagine the flavor of the final dish would have to be pretty amazing to make it worth braving all those thorns during the harvest! Remember that scene in "Braveheart" where the little girl picks the thistle and gives it to William Wallace? Rubbish! 8-)

Artemis Cooks said...

Fell in love with cardoons after cooking them at a historic site (from their garden). Just remove the strings from the stalks, cut into 4-inch lengths, and parboil about 45 min. in acidulated water (lemon is best). Then serve with butter and parmesan and another dash of lemon juice. Like artichoke hearts only better!