The absurdity of loving the artichoke

The Camus de Bretagne is thought by many to be as unapproachable as the eponymous author, Albert Camus, whose books, as an intense young art student hungry for “culture”, I devoured as greedily as I now devour the artichokes that absurdly bear his name. As he was a polemicist of the philosophy of the absurd it is not surprising that we commemorate him with a seemingly inedible foodstuff. There is, however, something irresistible, even to the uninitiated, about market stalls piled high with these softly green vegetables which, with their near uniformity of appearance, might have been produced by metal workers rather than the muddy booted sons of the Breton sod. Mother nature must gain a great deal of amusement in watching over the “smartest creature” on the planet struggling to enjoy the content of her whimsical conceits such as sea urchins, oysters, chestnuts and the artichoke. It is a shame that there is a majority in our sophisticated Western society who would rather solve a “Sudoku”  puzzle (what is it with puzzle books, or should I say “apps”?) rather than enjoy disrobing a meltingly soft artichoke, leaf by leaf until arriving at the subtle and delicious heart of the matter, without a drop of blood being spilt, save one’s own in the preparation. The essence of the artichoke, and maybe of today, may well be summed up by Camus – “I can accept periods of unhappiness, because I know I will also experience happiness”.

 

 

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in artichokes, Chestnuts, Cooking, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, France, oysters, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, sea urchins, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The absurdity of loving the artichoke

  1. Gorgeous! Makes me homesick for California.

  2. ambrosiana says:

    I want an artichoke…now!!!

  3. Nice post and pics. I started reading La mort heureuse and couldn’t finish it, but don’t have the same problem with artichokes… Yumm!

  4. ChgoJohn says:

    One has to give credit to our collective ancestor who first saw this thistle and thought “Yum!” Now there was an individual with an adventurous palate! Great quote by Camus, too. 🙂

  5. ceciliag says:

    I grow these every year, as annuals, because I adore their shape, but I also LOVE the flower so I am hopeless at picking them to eat! beautiful aren’t they… c

  6. Amen, brother. I can’t stand seeing all those leaves go to waste. Love the pictures!

  7. ....RaeDi says:

    Well said Camus – “I can accept periods of unhappiness, because I know I will also experience happiness”. How true… words of truth both his and yours. Just a small drop of blood, it makes them taste so much better… not the blood. I too love the flowers of the green absurdity loving artichoke too….RaeDi

  8. I’d never associated Camus with artichokes, or Brittany either, but I like the quote. And I love artichokes, all varieties. Here we grow and buy the smaller violette variety, but I have happy memories of buying huge globe artichokes in Breton markets.

  9. Love the ending quote; I tell myself a version of that everyday! I adore artichokes, but usually get mine in pizza form from the amazing artichoke nyc pizza shop – yum!

  10. I loved reading Camus in high school but found a better appreciation for the work after I graduated college. I’ll have to try preparing artichokes this way. I’ve only ever had the jarred version.

  11. “There is, however, something irresistible, even to the uninitiated, about market stalls piled high with these softly green vegetables which, with their near uniformity of appearance, might have been produced by metal workers rather than the muddy booted sons of the Breton sod.” Beautiful writing, you are obviously a jack of all trades not just a photographer!

  12. Karen says:

    It takes a talented man to make an artichoke look so beautiful.

  13. Laurent says:

    Superbe fleur… On en mangerait…

  14. And one of the most lovely things about an artichoke, is not when it is on your plate, but when you have allowed a few to go to flower, for they are a thistle and produce, erupting from the many leaves of their flower head, the most amazing electric purple vision that I never imagined on a food. Eat them, enjoy them, and if you are lucky, view them after they have gone too far for the table

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