Yid.Dish: Italian Jewish Fried Artichokes

By Leah Koenig

Published April 29, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Like many Jewish travelers, I have a tendency to seek out the Jewish connections in any city I visit. Stumbling across a generations-old deli, say, or a stone building etched with a Star of David from its former life as a synagogue, helps me feel at home when I am abroad. For Jews spending time in Rome, no trip is complete without a trek to the Roman Ghetto and a taste of Carciofi alla Giudia, literally “Jewish Style Artichokes.”

JCarrot

Known for their delicate chrysanthemum shape and crispy, salt-kissed taste, fried artichokes are a popular dish in restaurants across Italy’s largest city. Their history however, stems back to 16th century, when Roman Jews were confined to an overcrowded, impoverished ghetto. Deep fried artichokes might seem like a delicacy now, but according to Matthew Goodman who authored, Jewish Food: The World at Table, “food [in the ghetto] was scarce [and] frying was the cheapest and easiest option of food preparations.”

Goodman says that today, visitors to Rome can dine at Al Pompiere and La Taverna del Ghetto (kosher), which capitalize on the historical tourism industry by serving carciofi alla giudia, along with other traditional Jewish Italian dishes.

For cooks feeling adventurous enough to try this at home, Joyce Goldstein’s celebrated cookbook, Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen, includes a painstaking (but delicious) recipe for carciofi alla guida. The recipe was born of the year-long trial and error testing process Goldstein took to persuade the Green Globe artichokes grown in America to mimic their smaller, more tender Italian cousins. Her recipe introduction reads like an apology for America’s clunky, oafish chokes: “They look easy: just pound the chokes open and fry…but…the stems are tough! The leaves fall off!”

The recipe below offers a simplified adaptation–really more of a riff–on Goldstein’s recipe, which attempts to capture the culinary essence of the original, without confining the cook to many frustrated hours in the kitchen.

Carciofi alla Giudia (adaptation)

*This recipe yields beautiful tulip-shaped artichokes, in honor of the original recipe’s chrysanthemum shape. They took about 40 minutes, start to finish.

4 medium sized artichokes (look for vegetables with soft, long, flexible stems)

1 lemon

Plenty of olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Fill a large bowl with water and the juice of one lemon. Working one artichoke at a time, trim the stem to 1 1/2 – 2 inches. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the outer dark green layer of the stem, revealing the softer, lighter green center. Cut off the artichoke’s thorny top (horizontally) using a serrated knife and then carefully slice the artichoke in half, (vertically).

Remove the artichoke’s tough outer leaves until only the soft inner leaves remain. Using a small spoon, remove the hairy “choke” at the center of each artichoke half. (It may seem like you are wasting a lot of the plant –which is kind of true. Assuage your guilt by composting them!)

At this point, open your windows and turn on a fan!

Fry #1: Select a pot that is large enough to comfortably hold all of the artichoke halves. Place them in the pot, fill with oil until chokes are half covered. Then add water to cover. Bring pot to a simmer and cook, uncovered, about 15 minutes until they are cooked but not too soft. Remove with tongs and place on a platter.

Fry #2: Heat about one inch of oil in a cast iron pan (or other heavy pan). Using a pair of tongs, and lots of care, place the choke halves side down in the oil. Be really careful–hot oil splatters and hurts.

Fry for about 12 minutes, flipping the chokes halfway through, until brown and crispy on both sides. Turn off the heat and remove the fried chokes with tongs. Place onto paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?








You may also be interested in our English-language newsletters:













We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.