Carciofi alla giudia

 

The translated name of this recipe is ‘Jewish style artichokes’, at this was traditionally eaten after the kippur fast by the Jew population of the ghetto in Rome. The recipe is mentioned in writing since the Sixteenth century, and today it is a typical side dish of the Roman cuisine.

 

The key ingredient are the mammola or romanesco variety artichokes, which abundantly grow in the region of Lazio and that are characteristically round. Their other characteristic is that they have no thorns, so they can be eaten whole. We suggest you to seek this sort of artichoke, but in case of emergency you can do as most Italian cooks do and just cut the tip of a regular artichoke, then carve it a bit in its center. The only problem is that doing so you lose about half of it.

The preparation is very simple. The harder external part of the artichokes is cut off, then they are beaten together to get them open. A quick pass in water and lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then they are deep fried in sunflower oil. A trick of the trade is to sprinkle them with cold water as they get out of the oil, in order to make them crispier. As explained above, since real carciofi alla giudia require a very local variety of artichoke and must be eaten warm, trying to taste them anywhere more than 150 kilometers from Rome is a fool’s errand. On the bright side, however, the simple preparation means that they will be excellent pretty much wherever you find them in Rome – and they are served quite everywhere indeed. One last tip: fresh artichokes are only available between February and April!