QUESTION: Are artichoke leaves poisonous? What parts of the artichoke can I eat? -Paul D.
ANSWER: Most of the artichoke is edible, including the stem, the inside of the leaves (the outside of the leaves are sharp and fibrous), and the heart deep inside at the core. As you eat the lower leaves off of a cooked artichoke, you can peel the fibrous part off of the stem, revealing just the soft tasty part of the stem. The only part you can’t eat is the hairy choke inside, and the sharp, fibrous outer portion of the leaves. The choke is not poisonous, nor is the tough part of the leaves, but it is a choking hazard, and quite aptly named.
Arturo Carvajal, a doctor from Miami, was served a whole artichoke at a restaurant in 2010 and, not knowing the correct method of eating an artichoke, somehow managed to eat every part of the vegetable to the dismay of his stomach and bowels. He sued the restaurant for failing to explain the proper method of consuming the vegetable and for “disability, disfigurement, mental anguish,” and “loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life.”
Eating an artichoke is pretty simple. First, you peel off a petal. Then, scrape off the tender portion at the tip with your teeth and discard the rest of the petal. Repeat this process for each leaf until you make your way to the tender heart, which is also edible. The remaining parts of the artichoke, the outer portion of the leaves, the hairy stuff at the bottom (called the choke), and the stem, should never, under any circumstances, be eaten. No parts of the vegetable are poisonous, but attempting to eat an entire artichoke can have serious consequences.