A few weeks ago, we had dinner at the Taverna Flavia in Rome. Back in the 50's and 60's, this was the favourite haunt of the stars and starlets of the Cinecitta Film Studios. Framed black and white photographs of the likes of Richard Burton, Gregory Peck, Anouk Aimée, Sophia Loren and Frederico Fellini look down on you as you tuck into your Salata Elizabetha (named after - trumpet fanfare- Elizabeth Taylor). Sadly, it's all a bit shabby now: the waiters were a trifle weird (certainly over-familiar) and we left the place with the distinct impression that it was a restaurant trading heavily on its past glamour. But the food was good: simple, unpretentious and well cooked. We ordered their Carciofi alla Romana; otherwise known as Roman Stewed Artichokes. They were completely delicious.
This is how you make them: First, beg, buy or steal some Globe Artichokes. You will need to get hold of the larger, green Italian variety which are tender enough to be eaten whole. Having said that, they're still tough old things and hard to cut. You will need to prepare them carefully before cooking. Remove the tough outer leaves with an extremely sharp knife. Once that's done, trim the stalk down to about an inch. Go back to the remaining leaves and cut the tips off. Drop the artichokes into cold water to which a good quantity of lemon juice has been added. Finally, cut the artichoke lengthways and scoop out the core with a spoon.
Your mission today (should you decide to accept) is to stew them, rather than fry them. The lemon juice will help here, but keep the heat turned down. The artichokes should take about 30 -40 minutes to cook properly. Serve them with a further squeeze of lemon juice, chopped marjoram, sea salt and chunky black pepper.