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Keep Houston Press Free
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Artichoke Inspirations from Mint Cafe

Mint Cafe on Sage is the subject of this week’s Cafe review. After eating the appetizer called ardishawki there, I immediately bought some artichokes and started experimenting with the Middle Eastern dish myself. It’s a cooked, trimmed artichoke dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic and chopped cilantro--sort of an instant artichoke salad.

I never really thought of artichokes as part of Arab cooking before. Most of the artichoke recipes I know are from France, Italy or New Orleans (think artichoke and oyster soup). All of which makes sense since artichokes were introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s by Mediterranean immigrants to Louisiana.

But the wild thistle that became the cultivated artichoke originated in North Africa and the earliest recipes for it are Middle Eastern. The English name comes from the Arabic al-kharshof, via the Italian articiocco. My next project is ardishawki by zayt (stuffed artichokes), a Lebanese recipe that I found online. -- Robb Walsh

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