Monday, December 21, 2009

Artichokes, f’artichokes !

A Taste of Garlic is a relatively new blog dedicated to introducing us to blogs about living in France. Keith wrote a very flattering account of our own blog (on 4th December) but did criticise us for not having many articles about cooking. Fair play to him: one of the principle rewards to a hard-working peasant-style life in rural Brittany is the pleasure taken in eating the most amazing home produce, the sort of thing that would make Michelin-stared restaurateurs weep.

We are the owners of a fair library of cookbooks, which are always useful to point us in the right direction. Although we adapt them, I’m not sure that we’ve ever invented a recipe unique enough to call our own. Rather than recipes, then, I’m going to suggest ideas. First off, a seasonal root vegetable called the Jerusalem Artichoke, topinambour in French and to anyone who’s encountered them, “F’artichokes”. Apparently, they make a tasty soup but, and this is a big BUT, they have an unenviable reputation for being wind-inducing. I was given some by Sébastien a while back and put them in the vegetable rack, mentioning them to Gabrielle. They were allowed to go rotten and were then thrown away (sorry, Séb).

I then saw some in a local market and bought a bag. Still no soup. More recently, we saw a recipe on TV for a winter salad using artichokes but, of course, with the usual windy caveat. This reminded me and when we were next shopping together, I came across these nobbly terrors once again and bought some more. I managed to persuade Gabrielle into using them this time, rather than her hoping I’d forget about them, so she could hustle them quietly into the compost bin. In fairness, Gabrielle’s reluctance is understandable as I am no stranger to the odd trouser-cough or botty-burp and anything with a tendency to accentuate this is clearly to be avoided. Resigned to serving them up, she came up with Carrot and Jerusalem artichoke soup in her current favourite cookbooks, Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook.

Sarah tells us that artichoke soup “is one of the most wind-producing things that you can eat.” So, far, so un-reassuring. She then goes on to suggest that, “if you mix artichokes with the same amount of carrot, you still enjoy the artichoke’s sweet flavour but without the same effect.” Gabrielle cooked it, I ate it. It’s a tasty soup but:
“Oops, I beg your pardon.”
“Excuse me” … sorry, Sarah, we don’t agree.

Click on the photo of the Jerusalem artichoke plants below for cultivation advice and interesting history of this tuber.

Next blog, something rather special, a good old kitchen standby raised to the level of the sublime: “spag bol” good enough to serve to royalty.


lyrebird said...

i've just made some christmas jam (last minute gifts) with banana and bittersweet chocolate, thanks to christine ferber. it's rather yummy. if i lived down the road from you guys i'd drop a jar in to you to say happy christmas, but alas it's too far! happy christmas and keep up your wonderful blog. i love it! cheers, kate and pete and all our girls.

Miranda Bell said...

Happy New Year - you'll be heartened to know that Graeme and I had the same problem after Artichokes...!! :-) Hope you're both well! Mx
ps c u soon!

Bek said...

We're hoping to grow some f'artichokes on our allotment this year, so the link you posted is very much appreciated!

We haven't noticed the windy problem when we've eaten them in the past, but then vegans are perma-stinky anyway :D

Unknown said...

Je lis bien sur les champignons et les tronc.
nous faisons ca au 28e paralele sud ou nous utilisons les plamiers et les pleurotes s'installent. notre premiers permaculture en 1978 methode fukuoka.
nous venons passer du tps en France et europe.

Jude et Michel Fanton arriverons avec leur petite valise et bureau portable cetter annee en France mais aussi avec leur experience dans la conservation participative de plantes utiles tropicales. Ils sont des pionniers en Permaculture a Byron Bay Australie.
Si vous voulez les voir envoyez leur un email a. ou bien
Sans reponse? Alors c’est leur filter spam! Essayez
Michel et Jude rentrent juste de Malaysie et Rahasthan filmer et alliances.
Michel and Jude Fanton co-founded the Seed Savers’ Foundation in 1986 in order to conserve traditional varieties of food plants in both Australia and majority world countries. They have worked ceaselessly on seed issues ever since and have gained wide experience in the development of seed banks and seed networks, training on seed saving and documenting indigenous seed practices.
They have been telling the seed story with informal meetings, lectures, television appearances, over a 1000 articles about their work, books, cartoons and Powerpoints. Their "Seed Savers' Handbook" (30 000 sold) is translated and published in five countries and in translation in another five countries including Japan, Taiwan, Italy (another 30 000 distributed). Since 1995 they have worked as trainers and advisors on seed access policies and methods in over thirty countries, including The Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Cuba, Cambodia, Afghanistan and East Timor.
They have produced a documentary in 2008 it is called “Our Seeds:Seeds Blong Yumi” shot in 11 countries. See
In the eighties, Michel and Jude led a subsistence lifestyle at the edge of a rainforest devising and implementing natural (Permaculture) farming design and living strategies, teaching and writing. They still grow their own food in a popular tourist town on an acre with over 900 perennials, where they train and feed interns and lead tours for the public.
Michel Fanton, Project Manager at Seed Savers Foundation, is a pioneer in the relatively new field of community conservation of crop plants with an emphasis on the poorest and the most isolated. During the late sixties and into the seventies Michel lived and learnt with indigenous farming communities throughout the french-speaking Pacific and in South East Asia. He is an autodidact with a background in publishing, international hotel management and growing food.
Jude is the day-to-day Director of Seed Savers Foundation and takes responsibility for the delivery of all projects and productions. She has been the contact person in Seed Savers’ work with NGOs, responsible for training programmes and seed production from the gardens. Jude came from a radical background, studied history, politics and English literature and taught social science in high schools in the seventies.