Artichokes are one of the oldest foods known to man. Size has little to do with the quality or flavor of the artichoke. Look for compact, heavy plump heads. Research has found that artichokes contain a high amount of antioxidants, which have been shown to help fight cancer.
In the US, whole Globe Artichokes are most frequently prepared for cooking by removing all but 5–10 mm or so of the stem, and (optionally) cutting away about a quarter of each scale with scissors. This removes the thorns that can interfere with handling the leaves when eating. Then, the artichoke is boiled or steamed until tender. If boiling, salt can be added to the water, if desired. It may be preferable not to cover the pot while the artichokes are boiled, so that the acids will boil out into the air. Covered artichokes can turn brown due to the acids and chlorophyll oxidation. Leaves are often removed and eaten one at a time, sometimes dipped in vinegar, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice or other sauces.The heart of the artichoke is also eaten. Artichoke stems, which are often thrown away, are perfectly edible and taste like the artichoke heart.