Cardoons are a funny vegetable. By the looks of them, you'd think they wouldn't care whether they were picked up at a market or passed over in favor of something livelier, better looking. Think about it: at a market stand lush with produce, do you choose the ripe, inviting strawberries, or the spiny cardoons that look a little too much like celery with armor? We don't blame you -- cardoons, in raw form, look like they might be ready for attack.
However easy it is to dream of what you'll do with those strawberries, next time you're at the market, consider cardoons. Under the far-sexier name cardi or cardone, people lunching on the coast of Italy under ivy-covered pergolas order these. Does that help? Buy the cardoons. Trust us.
What are cardoons, anyway? Cardoons go way back -- as in, Caecilius and his pater ate them in reclined positions on low couches somewhere in Ancient Rome. They'd be served alongside watered wine; and that's how you should eat them, too, minus the water. (If you can find someone to fan you, all the better.)
When cooked properly, cardoons get a creamy interior that will taste very much like an artichoke, which brings us to step one. Before you do anything, make an acidulated water bath just like you would for their spiny cousin. Without it, the stalks will discolor after you peel and cut them.
I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.