GORGEOUS GIRL – The carciofo has been a staple of Roman diets since the days of the Ancients. According to Greek mythology, it all started with Zeus falling in love with yet another gorgeous girl, Cynara. Needless to say, he instantly seduced her and turned her into a goddess, bringing her to Mount Olympus. The young lady, however, soon felt homesick and left to visit her mother.
The king of the gods was furious and turned her into an artichoke. The name for the artichoke – cynara cardunculus – comes from this wretched girl. Funnily enough, this harmless vegetable has often been related to sudden fits of temper; a few centuries later, hot-blooded artist Caravaggio famously attacked a waiter over a plate of artichokes, enraged that he had challenged him to smell the difference between those fried in olive oil and those cooked in butter.