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All about Artichokes and Who was the first Artichoke Queen?

Globe artichokes are the large, unopened flower bud of a plant belonging to the thistle family. The many leaf-like parts making up the bud are called scales. Artichokes are actually a flower bud and if allowed to fully bloom can measure up to seven inches in diameter and become a violet-blue color.

Many people eat the insides of these leaves dipped in mayonnaise, butter or oil dressings. Artichoke hearts are the very center of the flower and are used in many pasta dishes, salads, and casseroles. These hearts can be canned and enjoyed any time of year.

The artichoke was first developed in Sicily. In 77AD the Roman naturalist Pliny called the choke one of earth's monstrosities, but many continued to eat them. Historical accounts show that wealthy Romans enjoyed artichokes prepared in honey and vinegar, seasoned with cumin, so that this treat would be available year round.

In the U.S., Artichokes were first grown in Louisiana, brought there by settlers in the 19th century. But It was not until the early twentieth century that artichokes were grown commercially in the United States. In fact all the U.S. commercially grown artichokes come from California.

In 1947, Marilyn Monroe was crowned the first Queen of the Artichokes in Castroville, California, known as the artichoke capital of the world.

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