I grew up near the “Artichoke Center of the World” (Castroville, California), but the only way we ever ate the vegetable was by peeling and eating the (boiled) leaves one by one after dipping them in plenty of mayonnaise. Given that it was usually more mayonnaise than artichoke, we tended to rarely eat them.
In Spain, they typically don’t eat the large Globe artichokes, but the smaller Blanca de Tudela variety. Here, baby artichokes are the norm, which means less scraping one mayonnaise-covered leaf at a time with your teeth and instead, lots of recipes that let you eat the entire vegetable (or nearly).
During artichoke season- mainly March through May (though it can continue into late summer)- artichokes are sold cheaply, by the kilo, and they begin to appear in paellas, on barbecues and as a daily veg.
In this video, I attempt to demonstrate the technique my Spanish mother-in-law showed me for removing just enough of the tough outer leaves so that the cooked artichokes can be eaten whole. Here, I do a quick and simple steam and toss them with olive oil and salt for my 3-year-old daughter’s lunch.