Just like many of today’s most beloved ingredients, the popularity of artichokes came out of necessity. Simply put, they were available and people made the most of them, especially in times of need. Rome’s Jewish community is a good example in this respect. Confined to the very restricted (and prone to flooding) riverside area of II Ghetto, they had limited food access except for those spiny thistles, which were plentiful and rather inexpensive. Not only that: Jews were restricted in their employment opportunities but they could work as food vendors and use artichokes. Originally prepared to celebrate the end of the Yom Kippur fast, they soon became an important component of Roman-Jewish cuisine.
The ghetto was finally abolished in the 19th century but the culinary tradition lives on. Artichoke-based dishes can be sampled pretty much anywhere in the area. Giggetto, by the ruins of the Roman temple of Porticus Octaviae, is another landmark restaurant not to be missed. Their artichokes are prepared pretty much in the same way as Piperno – and just like Piperno, they serve them all year round.