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Eat this! Artichokes, the armored vegetable

What it is: Round and spiky, the globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is a savory relative of the thistle and the sunflower. The edible parts are at base of its thorny leaves, which eaters scrape through their teeth, and its soft heart.

Where it comes from: Nobody knows who first figured out how to eat this armored vegetable, which has been cultivated in the Mediterranean for millennia. Artichokes probably originated in North Africa, where they are still found in the wild. The name derives from the North Italian dialect word articiocco, which stems from the Arabic name, al-kharshof.

What to do with it: In the video above, Chef Shelly Young of The Chopping Block in River North and Lincoln Square demonstrates how to cook an artichoke. Season it with whatever herbs you like, and serve it hot with melted butter or hollandaise sauce for dipping, or cold with aioli or curried mayonnaise.