Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

cardoon Cynara cardunculus, a member of the thistle family, a native of the Mediterranean region with a flower head intermediate in size and appearance between artichoke and common thistle.

Long before the artichoke was developed, the ancient Greeks and Romans regarded the cardoon as a great delicacy. It was first described in the 4th century BC by the Greek writer Theophrastus, who stated that it was a native of Sicily. (Probably it was originally introduced from N. Africa.) Not only the flowering heads but also the stems and the midribs of the main leaves were eaten. Young buds were pickled in vinegar or brine with silphium and cumin.