Aesthetically beautiful to look at, the artichoke is a typical cultivation of the Mediterranean, it belongs to the Asteraceae family and is scientifically known with the name of “Cynara scolymus” whose first word “cynara” derives from the Latin “cinis” or ash. This nomenclature comes from one of the ancient methods of soil fertilization, which saw in the ash the ideal condition for the cultivation and growth of this unique product with a delicate but bold flavor.
Its flower occurs in nature as among the most beautiful and fascinating, with a broad and filamentous corolla and color Violet access that inevitably catches the eye, the artichoke it was a plant already known to the ancient Greeks, who appealed to it kinara while the powerful Romans already defined it cynara, much more similar to the modern scientific name. It seems that the current name comes from Arabic “to the kharshuf”In whose Eastern lands it was already widespread and known for its marked nutritional properties.
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Artichoke: between history and legend
This plant with beautiful vivid flowers and very similar to sea anemones it was already present more than a thousand years ago in the Mediterranean basin up to caressing the fertile lands of the northern African coasts. The origins of its name are rather uncertain, but to decree it its appellation current it seems to be an ancient legend which has its roots in the Aegean Sea, in enlightened Greece where this plant has seen the light and has consecrated its spread throughout Europe.
The legend tells of a bewitching nymph named Cynara, whose beauty was described by all with ardor and admiration: a singular Mediterranean beauty whose rosy skin and luminous and gentle face, was exalted by all as well as for its refined bearing, the deep green eyes studded with bright purple and ash-colored hair. It was precisely the unusual color of her hair, with shiny and iridescent gray shades that gave her this name.
Its so rare beauty kidnapped the mighty Zeus while he was walking to visit his brother Poseidon; the god noticed the gentle, sinuous and delicate nymph lying on a beach on the Sicilian coast and fell in love with her at first glance. The desire of Zeus, that fiery he kept in his heart, was of take the young woman with him among the gods of Olympus, but after a short time the beautiful nymph ran away and the mighty Zeus, in an uncontrolled moment of anger turned it into a vegetable, beautiful and delicate like her with a green color like her eyes and the purple shades that characterized her so much.
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Origins and diffusion of the artichoke
In antiquity the artichoke was already known more than 2000 years ago in the fertile lands of Greece coastal, then spread to ancient times Egypt it did not have the features of the current agricultural product, but it was known as a wild variety called “thistle”, A smaller plant with hard and thorny leaves whose flowers, however, resumed the characteristic purplish color of what we know today. Already at the time he was well known for his innate diuretic and refreshing properties as well as for its medicinal qualities affecting the liver.
It soon spread throughout the Mediterranean basin and was well received on the gargantuan tables of the ancient Romans, already overflowing with all goodness. It enjoyed considerable success among the ancient populations, but it was after the Middle Ages that knew its decline because of its too bitter taste and too hard leaves.
Only centuries later the artichoke was able to attend one rebirth and to a re-evaluation of its beneficial properties, spreading throughout Italy with large crops and selections as well as numerous varieties that have gotten into it lately recognition of the IGP mark, as it happened for the Romanesco Artichoke.
Artichokes: properties and benefits
Artichokes are a delicious food and they are known for their versatility in the kitchen which allows you to prepare rich, tasty and savory dishes, as well as being a valuable source of vitamins, potassium and iron. The active ingredient contained in them, the cinarina, promotes diuresis and consecrates it as one of the best known and most powerful purifying vegetables. There are many benefits for the liver thanks to the increase in bile flow e I’m particularly indicated for those who follow a diet restrictive and controlled for type 1 or 2 diabetes.
Particularly effective it is the infusion of artichoke leaves, capable of stimulating remarkably diuresis is the consequent elimination of toxins. With a typically bitter taste guarantees important benefits thanks to its powerful purifying and detoxifying abilities.
Rich in fibers prove to be extremely useful for intestinal motility and to combat overt states of constipation or irritable bowel syndrome. The constant consumption of artichokes well contributes to properly support the cardiovascular system, thanks to its innate cholesterol-lowering qualities and is a faithful ally of the liver thanks to its remarkable purifying powers in favor of one of the most important organs of our body.