The Heritage Cooking Challenge: The Hunt for the Missing Artichoke

The globe artichoke. Something not seen, fresh, by myself in my travels, which therefore meant I had to use a stock public domain photo.
CC0 Public Domain

I’d like to say it was a dark, stormy night, as all good stories begin… In actual fact it was a sunny Saturday afternoon in August.

According to reliable websites, the Globe Artichoke is in season as of now. This, indeed, is partly why I chose the artichoke pie as my recipe for this challenge – it seemed reasonable to pick something where the ingredients were accessible without much of a challenge. I even had my route planned out, taking in farm shops, grocers… a number of supermarkets in various towns.

Well you know what they say about the best laid plans…

The first destination was one of my regular farm shop haunts. Decorum stops me from naming the places, but this particular shop has been a staple visit of mine for a number of years, and has an excellent reputation. I’ve mostly, however, looked for meat when visiting, not veg. Walking in, I could see why…

No artichokes

Onwards, ever onwards then. A supermarket next on my list. Their online portal claimed artichokes were available, but they weren’t in the shop.

The Fosse Way may be an ancient Roman Road, but it’s also fertile ground for travelling across Warwickshire. The next farm shop was off the beaten track, just outside Rugby… and when I say off the beaten track, I really mean it. I’ve just bought a new (old) car, and its suspension got a workout across a battered, isolated path with rustic potholes and more besides – it was a bit like I imagine the MIRA testing track to be. Given how remote it was (beautiful views!) it was all the more galling to walk in the shop, and find it was meat only. I imagine given the effort to get there, I must have confused the butcher by cheerily greeting him, turning round and walking straight back out, before driving promptly off once more!

I even dipped into Northamptonshire (no success) and saw all kinds of interesting little potential meals (can’t beat a good buffalo steak!) but… no artichokes!

How hard can it be?

Above, you’ll notice I mentioned a major supermarket advertised selling them online. Well, I’m now registered for online shopping with three supermarkets, and that’s three more than before I began this process. They kindly walk you through the process to the verge of payment… at which point you get informed that artichokes are not available in your area.

This I have come to learn…

An online grocer told me good news! Yosemedee1 delivers in my area on a Friday! Alas, I work on a Friday so am not in my own area! As a result, we never tested them to see if they had an abundance of artichokes.

A colleague informed me there were plenty in allotments around the south coast of England which was a kind little comment, to prove they were thinking of me but ultimately… useless.

Even an appeal on the Our Warwickshire twitter account came to nothing, even when reaching the far-off county of Nottinghamshire with our plaintive pleas. Perhaps our readers can suggest why, in this lush and verdant land of ours, it is impossible to source a globe artichoke or 12?

The solution?


How oh how oh how can a supposedly simple ingredient be so hard to find? This was part of the cooking challenge I was expecting to be easy! This, indeed, was an unforeseen challenge and showed how, when reproducing these recipes, it was best to take nothing for granted when translating the past to the present.

How did it turn out? Read on…

1 I may have changed the name to protect their privacy…

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