Of armpits and artichokes…

Yesterday began in a most unusual way.  I function, during my morning bathroom ritual,  on “auto pilot”.  An order of events has insinuated itself, over the passing years, which means that once ablutions have commenced I’m not particularly conscious of that which is happening as it is pre-ordained. As the razor slices through foam and stubble I am elsewhere. If it is a good day I am in that pleasant place where my thoughts are of what I shall be writing, cooking or photographing later that day. Such a day was yesterday. For an unconscious and complicated process such as this to have a happy ending, it is essential that all the different pieces of “equipment” required  must be in their ordained places. The moving hand takes and having taken moves on…but should the moving hand have taken the wrong item, and carried on moving, as was the case yesterday morning, then you may well end up with an armpit full of shaving cream rather than deodorant.

I recovered from this setback and went to see Lennox, whose morning ablutions seemed to be simpler than mine as he just dived into the cold clear water and stayed under it until I had gone. The weather having changed for the better, I now leave the trap door of his oubliette wide open so that, like Oscar, he may appreciate that little tent of  blue  that prisoners call the sky.*

And so to artichokes…this time the “Poivrade”. As you will notice, this artichoke is prettier and more feminine than the butch Camus de Bretagne. This is because it is rumoured that Jupiter was wildly in love with a beautiful blonde girl. who gave him the bum’s rush. In a fit of pique he turned her into a artichoke, a poivrade artichoke to be precise. I’d love to hear that one being tried at Crown Court.


Forgetting that I had a bunch of bewitched blondes in my hands, I broke the heads off each of the artichokes in this delightful bouquet and trimmed them severely. The cut ends were rubbed with lemon and covered in a layer of an intense tomato sauce which was flavoured with thyme, basil and parsley. All that remained to do was to cook them, covered, in salted water for about an hour, or until they were soft.


At the end of the cooking, they are sprinkled with fresh breadcrumbs and parmesan and flashed under a hot grill. They taste wonderful whilst reminding us that hubris is always unwise….particularly if you’re a blonde walking out with a mythological god.


* For first time visitors, let me assure you that Lennox is a frog that I am trying to rescue, but who eludes my every effort.

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 2014, artichokes, Artichokes Poivrade, Basil, Cooking, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Herbs and Spices, Humour, Olive oil, Parmesan, Photography, photography course, Recipes, Thyme, tomatoes, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Of armpits and artichokes…

  1. I love your sense of humor and your photos are just simply fantastic.

  2. Darya says:

    Superb. I love artichokes but hardly ever made them, but this recipe seems almost fuss free, or is it just the way you describe it that makes it sound like that?

  3. sabine says:

    It seems we share a love for these vegetables! Looks absolutely delicious!

  4. Mad Dog says:

    Stunningly beautiful – I bet they were delicious too!

  5. Vicki says:

    Looks delicious. That blue background looks a marvellous contrast in the first photo.

    So they take an hour to cook………

    I vaguely remember my Mother buying some artichokes 45+ years ago, but I don’t remember if we ever ate them as, being typically Aussies, didn’t know the proper way to cook them.

  6. catterel says:

    I was a little puzzled at first, then I realised you are dealing with the hearts of these blonde maidens – do you discard the leaves? I love artichokes – eating them leaf by leaf is so zen – but have always cooked them whole.

  7. I’m seeing pretty artichokes like that in the market now. Have to think of what to do.

  8. Rosa de los Vientos says:

    I enjoy your writing. Refreshing and funny. Horrendous blonds seem to end up as soul food.

  9. suej says:

    Stunning images, these look and sound delicious…..my only two attempts at cooking artichokes have been an unmitigated disaster…….. 😦

  10. one of the most beautiful shot of artichokes I have every seen

  11. Eha says:

    I also am on total ‘auto-pilot’ during the first hour or so of the day ~ I guess it helps if shaving foam is not part of one’s requirements 🙂 ! Oh, love the artichoke recipe with its herby touches: already filed for future with thanks!!

  12. That looks fantastic, Roger! Excellent colour.

  13. Beautiful ” Food prose”, Roger!

  14. chef mimi says:

    What a beautiful post. I hope you’re writing a book!

    • Thanks. I have written a couple of books, “Eating at La Moussiere” and “Simpley Fed”,both of which are available as hardbacks or e books on my site. I’m hoping to get started on a more commercial venture this year:)

  15. saucygander says:

    If I come over to France, can I sneak into your kitchen? 🙂

  16. Karen says:

    Your artichokes look so tasty. I’ve never had them with tomato, I’ll being trying that way next time.

  17. Sally says:

    My imagination was going wild ….. happy Lennox!

  18. Swim, Lennox, Swim, be free!! I thought it was a dog that chose to ignore you. Love love love artichokes and I’ve not prepared them like this.. they’re on my list!

  19. I need a lot of coffee some mornings to get the order of ablutions done correctly! Love this way of doing artichokes, something I must try when they are in season here 🙂

  20. ChgoJohn says:

    Nothing gets me out of my morning stupor like putting shaving gel on my toothbrush. I changed toothpaste brands after I did that the 2nd time. Luckily, both times I caught the error by sight rather than taste but I believed it only a matter of time. Your photos today are fantastic today, Roger.

  21. You got my attention at armpits and kept it at artichokes!
    What beautiful chokes you have and what lovely edibles you made with them. Just so beautiful and delicious!

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