Yesterday I paid € 7 for a single carciofo alla giudia. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. I mean, the deep fried mammola artichoke (aka carciofi romanesco), had crispy trimmed outer leaves and a supremely tender heart. Everything about it was absolutely perfect, but 14.000 Lira? Madonna. The prices in the market are equally stunning, ranging from € 1.10-1.80 each, depending on the neighborhood. I suppose this is just more proof that this local species of artichokes is pure culinary gold. Or possibly just a fulfillment of the market forces that drive food prices.
Historically, the first week in February sees the highest prices for carciofi romaneschi during its long October to May growing season. Consequently, you will find less expensive artichokes from other regions sold in Rome’s markets, especially from Sardegna, Puglia, and Sicily. These three regions produce far more artichokes than Lazio (the region where Rome is located), and each region dedicates at least 14 times the land that Lazio does to their cultivation. But none of them produces the sweet-hearted, compact, spherical perfection that is the prized carciofo romanesco.