This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Dietetically are used the Jerusalem Artichoke, (Helianthus tuberosus), of the Sunflower order, and the Globe Artichoke (Cinara maxima anglicana), which is a magnified thistle. The tubers of the former, being dug up, are red outside, and white within; they contain sugar, iron, albumin, an aromatic principle, and water. Formerly these tubers were baked in pies, with beef marrow, dates, ginger, raisins, and sack. They do not afford any starch, but yield 2 per cent of inulin, - an allied element. When first introduced into England, this Artichoke was "a dainty for a monarch! "but the tuberous roots have none of the potato's properties, being more of the turnip nature, As containing sugar in considerable quantities, their nutritive value is but slight; the more the tubers are chilled the better their quality. The term Jerusalem is a corruption of Girasole, a Sunflower, turning "vers le soleil," towards the sun; from which beneficent orb is mainly derived the oil-producing pabulum of the vigorous, sturdy, large flower, giving a practical lesson to the invalid as to the marvellous beneficial effects of direct open sunshine; the more the better, of course under proper precautions.
In Dombey & Son (Dickens), at Leamington Spa, the languid old would-be juvenile Mrs. Skewton, full of affectations, and fashionable airs, having disposed herself in a studied attitude on the sofa, gives her hand condescendingly to old Major Bagstocke, when he pays her a visit on a broiling summer morning, and tells him with a simper, he "actually smells of the sun; is absolutely tropical." By a curious perversion of terms Artichoke soup, or Jerusalem soup, has been turned into Palestine soup.
To bake these tubers, peel and trim the required number, put them into a covered baking dish, using plenty of butter; season with salt and pepper; bake in a brisk oven for thirty minutes. When done they should be of a rich, brown colour. Serve them while hot. They contain some amount of gummy substance, which makes them mucilaginous when boiled; and the water in which they are boiled becomes quite a thick jelly when cold, making an excellent foundation for sauces. "As to the broad torus of the Sunflower, ere it comes to expand, and show its golden face, this being dressed as the Artichoke, is to be eaten for a daintie. I once made macaroons with the ripe, blanched seeds, but the turpentine so domineered over all that they did not answer expectations".
Jerusalem Artichokes may be scalloped, to imitate scalloped oysters. Cut up a few of these Artichokes, and stew them till tender. Put one ounce of butter into a saucepan, and when it is melted dredge in flour enough to dry it up; add a little white stock from "bread soup,"and give one boil. Now put back the Artichokes, with some pepper, and salt, and a little cream. Have ready some buttered scalloped oyster tins, lay the Artichokes in them, and as much liquid as they will hold; cover them over with bread crumbs, upon which drop a little melted butter. Brown them before the fire, or in the oven, and serve very hot indeed. Or, by another way, the remnant of cold boiled Artichokes from a previous meal may be utilized. Six good-sized ones will be required for the purpose; rub these vegetables through a wire sieve, and stir into them two tablespoonfuls of thick raw cream, with one wineglassful of liquified butter; season to taste with salt, pepper, and a dust of cayenne. Scald, skin, and remove the bones from half a dozen fine sardines, and press the flesh likewise through the sieve, mix it with the Artichoke paste, and add sufficient grated bread-crumbs to work it to a not too stiff paste.
Have ready some oyster shells, which must be scrupulously scrubbed first, and pile a small quantity of the mixture upon each; then strew bread crumbs over the surface, and bake in a quick oven until just delicately browned, no real cooking being needed; serve very hot indeed, and garnish with fresh parsley.
The fresh juice of these Artichokes being pressed out before the plant blossoms, was employed in former days for restoring the hair of the head, even when the case seemed hopeless, and the person was quite bald. As a fact not generally known, it may be stated casually that red-haired individuals are credited with an immunity from baldness. Three dark hairs, being of finer texture, occupy the space as a rule of one red hair. With respect to the practice of shaving, Pepys tells suggestively, and amusingly in his diary, May 31, 1662, "I did in a sudden fit cut off all my beard, which I had been a great while bringing up: only that I may with my pumice stone do my whole face, as I now do my chin, and to save time: which I find a very easy way, and gentle".
Evelyn has styled the Globe Artichoke "a noble thistle".
It contains phosphorus in the form of phosphoric acid, and presents as edible parts a middle pulp, together with other soft delicate pulp at the base of each floret. "This middle pulp," writes Gerarde (1636), "when boiled with the broth of fat flesh, and with pepper added, makes a dainty dish, being pleasant to the taste, and accounted good to procure bodily desire." "The Heads being slit in quarters, first eaten raw with oyl, a little vinegar, salt and pepper, do gratefully recommend a glass of wine," (as Dr. Musset says,) "at the end of meals." "The same true Artichoke,' 'told Aristotle, "has the power of curdling milk, and transforming it into yourt; therefore it should not be eaten therewith, but with pepper, which does not generate wind, and which clears the liver: and this is the reason why donkeys, who eat largely of such thistles, have better stomachs than men".
Dr. Metchnikoff now advises a diet of curdled milk for prolonging human life. An ancient stockinger, of Nottingham, in the eighteenth century, lived to a great age on this particular food. It was his custom to have fourteen bowls of milk standing on his window sill, so as to ensure one daily, of the requisite age, (fourteen days,) for his consumption.
The tubers of the Jerusalem Artichoke contain 80 per cent of water, 2 per cent of nitrogenized substance, a minute percentage of fat, 5 per cent of sugar, 1 per cent of inulin, and nearly 10 per cent of other carbohydrates (warming constituents) which are transformable into sugar. Because all these leading principles are very soluble in water, the tubers should be stewed, and served with the juice, rather than boiled, and then taken out of their water. Again they are good if cooked au, gratin, with whole capers instead of cheese; layers of artichoke with bread crumb between, adding the capers, and small bits of butter. These tubers contain 4 per cent more water than potatoes do. If served with milk, the Jerusalem Artichoke curdles this just as rennet acts.