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Artichokes Good Enough to Go to War Over

My family loves artichokes, but not as much as Ciro “Whitey” Terranova. In the 1920s, this mafia member became so smitten with this veggie that he tried to monopolize the market. “Whitey” purchased every single artichoke produced in California for $6 a crate, then shipped his treasures to the Big Apple, where his own produce company controlled their distribution. “Whitey” resold his favorite food at an exorbitant profit.

Dubbed the “Artichoke King,” “Whitey” used mobster-like tactics to terrorize produce distributors, food markets, and farmers in California, creating a full-fledged artichoke war. “Whitey’s” war created so much havoc in New York City that the then mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, declared it illegal to sell, display, or possess artichokes. But Mayor La Guardia loved artichokes just as much as “Whitey”, so his ban lasted only one week—La Guardia couldn’t survive more than seven days without artichokes.

At my house we have our own artichoke wars. The following recipe is so delicious that we fight over the leftovers. I’m sure “Whitey” would have loved our grilled artichoke hearts just as much as we do.

Grilled Artichokes with a Remoulade Sauce Serves 8

For the Remoulade:

2 cups mayonnaise 4 tablespoons sweet pickle relish 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 teaspoons capers 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon lemon juice ½ teaspoon Worcestershire® sauce Salt to taste Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, pickle relish, garlic, capers, mustard, lemon juice, and Worcestershire® sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours prior to serving.

For the artichokes: 4 large artichoke 4 lemons 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons garlic, minced Place artichokes on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut off the stem so that artichokes will stand upright and slice 1 inch off its top if using large artichokes, ½ inch if using small. Remove any tough outer leaves around the stem. Using cooking shears, snip off the sharp tips of the leaves. Hold artichokes upright and place under a solid stream of running water to wash out any debris. Cut artichokes in half lengthwise. The inside of an artichoke has three parts—the stem, the heart, and the hairy choke. Using a spoon or a small paring knife, remove the hairy choke. It is not edible. Immediately squeeze lemon juice on the inside of chokes to prevent browning. Place chokes in a large bowl of lemon water until ready to boil.

8 prepped artichoke halves Lemon halves used for browning prevention 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Fill a large kettle with water, lemons used to prevent browning, olive oil, and garlic and place over a high heat. Bring water to a solid rolling boil, add artichokes, and cook 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon size. Artichokes are done when a fork can be easily inserted into the base and the outside leaves pull out easily. For grilling: Juice of 1 lemon 1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil 8 garlic cloves, minced 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Preheat the grill to high heat. Brush artichokes with the olive oil mixture. Grill artichokes for 5 to 10 minutes, or until grill marks reach the desired appearance, turning frequently and brushing with the olive oil mixture. Serve immediately with remoulade on the side. Shopping: A good artichoke will have tightly packed, crisp leaves. As artichokes age, their leaves spread apart. Look on the cut end. A black end means the artichoke has been stored too long. Do not buy this vegetable if it is wilted, dried out, or moldy. Fall and winter artichokes may have bronze tips or a whitish, blistered appearance. This is caused by exposure to a light frost. Some artichoke connoisseurs believe this vegetable is more tender and intensely flavored after a frost.

Storing: If placed in plastic bags and refrigerated, an artichoke will keep up to 1 week.

Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Insider Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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