Artichokes make me wonder about the human spirit and its unbound curiosity. I mean— who was the first person to look at the hostile thistle with its sharp thorns and leathery scales and think "hmmm... that might be good to eat"?
Most likely, that person was from North Africa, where the wild thistle is thought to have originated. While I'll never know his/her identity, I am grateful to them and the legions of people who have cultivated it since.
The Globe artichoke (Cynara carunculus) is, in fact, a flower bud that is harvested before blooming. The immature flower is the mass of inedible fibers, known as the choke, found in the center of the bud. The edible part— the heart— is the thickened, fleshy receptacle located at the base.
To get to the meaty heart, the scales must be removed, the choke scraped out, and the fibrous exterior peeled away. This process leaves a pile of fractal scales that are often needlessly discarded. The inner pale scales are delicately-flavored and tender as flower petals when the purple papery tips are trimmed away. The dark outer scales are too tough and fibrous to eat, but they retain a nugget of the heart at their base which is delicious and fun to eat when dipped into a sauce and scraped out between the teeth.
Layering the scales with a sauce in a bowl is one way to present them. While the intention of this dish was to save them from the bin, it was directly inspired by the artichoke's form and true nature as a flower. Amusingly, the restructured scales, or flattened artichoke, comes off looking like a water lily or lotus flower— yet another testament to the recurring designs found in nature which are never arbitrary or isolated.
Artichokes and eggs are a great marriage, especially when piqued with acid. Sweetened with black garlic and crowned with sieved egg yolks, a classic sauce gribiche fits the bill nicely