Artichokes, Historians believe the Artichoke originated in the Mediterranean countries, possible Sicily or Tunisia. From the 16th century to the end of the 20th century, the Artichoke was made a gourmet item in Paris, France. The Artichoke was thought to have been an aphrodisiac during the 16th century. In fact, consumption of this rare vegetable was reserved only for men for it was thought to enhance sexual power.
The word Artichoke comes from the Arabic word al-qarshuf. The name passed into Spanish during the Middle Ages. The Old Spanish word alcarchofa was variously modified as it passed through Italian. The name articiocco was then modified in English, once introduced to the English.
The Artichoke was introduced to California by the Spanish during the nineteenth century. During this time, many Italian immigrants settled in the coastal city of Half Moon Bay. In the 1950's, Artichokes earned fame in the state of California, thus giving the status of the official vegetable for Monterrey County. Today, California provides nearly 100 percent of the Artichokes of the United States Crops.