Recently, I had a vegetable I’d never eaten before. Robin found the gnarly root at Meusch’s Farm food stand in Rolla. When she got home and took them out of the sack, she played a guessing game with me.
“What are these?” she asked, taunting me—the food blogger—with an unknown vegetable.
There was dirt still on them, so I figured they had to be a tuber of some kind. But they weren’t symmetrical like a potato. They were twisted and irregular like fresh ginger—which was one of my guesses.
Everything You Need to Know about Chokes
Finally, I gave up and she revealed that she’d bought a bag of Jerusalem artichoke (sometimes called a sun choke, sun root, or earth apple).
It took some scrubbing before Robin had the vegetable ready for Jerusalem Artichokes Provencale, a recipe she’d found in the New York Times. The directions called for sautéing the chokes along with garlic and cherry tomatoes.
I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. (No, they didn’t taste like chicken.) But they did taste like potatoes. When cooked, the insides were soft and creamy, much like potatoes. But unlike potatoes, chokes can be eaten raw.
The Name Deceives
Intrigued by my daughter’s discovery, I did a Google search to find out more about the unsung tubers. I learned that despite one of it’s many names, the vegetable is not from Jerusalem! It’s not even an artichoke! It’s part of the sunflower family and originally cultivated by Native Americans.
The Jerusalem artichoke probably got it’s name, because it sounded like girasol, the Italian name for sunflower. Nutritionally, its a good source of potassium and iron. Chokes also contain “good” bacteria, that makes for healthy gut ecology.
- Belly Laugh