Artichokes “Matticella” – The Roman farmer’s choice
You’ve probably already heard about Roman artichokes and Jewish-style artichokes, but have you heard about “Matticella” artichokes?
As spring season approaches with its warm and sunny days, Rome’s countryside blooms into a kaleidoscope of colors. Roman farmers prune the grapevines preparing them for Fall’s wine harvest. The thin branches are then stacked neatly
into piles called “matticelle”. When the stack has arrived to be about waist height a fire is started allowing them to burn for nearly an hour. In the meantime, taking advantage of the burning fire, the artichokes are prepared.
First, the top inch is cut off and with secular experience the thistle in the middle is removed. Afterwards, the center is stuffed with wild spearmint and diced garlic and all is embellished with extra virgin olive oil. Using a rake the hot ashes
are spread out in a large circle about 4 inches high. The artichokes are then placed on the shimmering ashes. After 45-50 minutes the external leaves will have darkened and that’s how to tell the meal is ready.
At first glance the artichokes may seem charred and inedible but by removing the first 2-3 layers of leaves, the mouthwatering aroma will make you think otherwise.