The Jersualem Artichoke That's Not

Saturday, 11 April 2009

But in my judgement, which way soever they be drest and eaten they stir up and cause a filthie loathesome stinking winde with the bodie, thereby causing the belly to bee much pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine, than men.
John Goodyer, 17th century botanist

Safe to say that John Goodyer wasn't much partial to Jerusalem artichokes.

Safe to say also that our current use of the English language is not quite what it used to be :)

I planted some of this strange little vegetable after Maggie gave me one of them. A round tuber (which looks like a giant seed or nut.) I don't think I have ever eaten one in my life, but I liked the idea of planting a gift in my newly begun veggie garden.

It actually ended up growing about six feet tall. I really had absolutely no idea about what I was doing. That is a rather unsettling feeling, isn't it? I struggle with childlike play and exploration with no road map. I am a product of my Western existence. It unsettles me, makes me feel uncomfortable, but it is the way I grow. I actually feel more spiritually unsettled about my unsettledness, but that's another story :) It is good to be unsettled in such fashions. Even if it is something as small as growing a vegetable you know nothing abut.

No idea about when to harvest it, even at the beginning whether it was a globe artichoke or a Jerusalem artichoke, whether the vegetable grew on the plant or grew underground. I had always thought tubers meant that they were root vegetables, so I went on that suppositiion.

I harvested it yesterday, when Google told me to, about a month after it flowered. When I pulled it out, I still wasn't sure if what I was looking at was it. Was that thing there, that looked like the thing Maggie had given me in the beginning only multiplied - was that it?

It's sure easier when they're all just stacked together in the supermarket with ID tags on them :) Easier also when you know what the hell what you're growing looks like!

Turns out that I have actually harvested a rather large bowlful of this weird little thing which looks like giant pieces of ginger. No idea how to cook it, or even whether I'll like it, but a bit of experimentation, even if it's just eating a new vegetable, is always a fun sort of thing to do :) Funny where my inspiration comes from to try to stave off depression and look at the world through childlike eyes - but through a vegetable? Gee, I'm getting old! :)

The poor old Jerusalem artichoke isn't actually from Jerusalem - and isn't even an artichoke, either. Luckily vegetables don't have identity crises. They actually hail from North America and are related to the sunflower. I don't know how I am going to cook them yet, but I think I shall take John Goodyer's advice and eat them alone :)


  1. An acquaintance who is part of a co-op farm got some of these (she called them sunchokes) with no idea what to do with them. So she asked on Facebook. No one had any ideas, and I never heard what her experience was. Good luck with that. :) It's cool that you grew it, though!

  2. mmm how fascinating! I like the idea of growing mystery plants :) Maybe we should do a mystery seed exchange!
    But please, dont try them tomorrow, I dont want to be sitting next to you at the Forum if a filthie loathesome stinking winde erupts! ;)

  3. you green thumb you
    please keep us informed as to what you cook with the stuff


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