An unseemly noise for a teenager, let alone a human came from me when I first dipped the leathery leaf of an artichoke into a mustardy vinaigrette in Brasserie Le Linois, Place Charles Michels.
Usually, it’s difficult if not impossible to recreate those dishes from memories of the past in a foreign country. The smells, the sounds, the air all colour our memories and we are destined to be disappointed. But fear not! The artichoke doesn’t suffer from this problem. It tastes the same to me now, dipped in that dressing as it did all those years ago.
How does this happen I imagine myself hearing you ask? I have no idea, but being May, and them appearing in my greengrocer I’m not going to ask too many questions.
You can cook them in simmering water, covered for 30-45 minutes depending on their size, or, if you are desperate for your hit, they do just as well in the microwave, wrapped in clingfilm for about ten. I prefer simmering them though, you can add aromatic flavours to the cooking water.
To the water, add 2 fresh bay leaves, a tablespoon of peppercorns, a large splash of tarragon vinegar (or plain white wine vinegar if you prefer) and some salt. Bring the water and artichoke to the boil, then simmer until cooked, that is, when the leaves come away easily.
Leave it to cool a little and eat slightly warm dipped in vinaigrette made by whisking together one tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt, two tablespoons of tarragon cider vinegar (or again, plain) then slowly incorporating about ten tablespoons of olive oil. Use less if you prefer a sharper dressing.
Pull the leaves from the globe, dip them in and tease off the flesh into your mouth as you remember your long lost youth…