Cynarin (Artichokes and that sweet taste)

I am always completely confused when I meet someone who doesn't like artichokes. Not in the cheese-based dip, though that's not bad, either. I take my artichokes steamed, with a big bowl of drawn salted butter. The savory-sweet taste, the smooth texture, that puzzling satisfaction of only getting a little food out of your substantial efforts (sunflower seeds, anyone?), and the fact that it's probably the only food you eat by biting down and pulling the free end from your mouth all add to the experience.

My favorite thing about artichokes, though, is the fact that everything tastes oddly sweet afterwards. For that, we can thank cynarin.


Cynarin is named for the artichoke (Cynara scolymus) and, as this post at The Daily Transcript shows, is responsible for a good chunk of artichokes' capacity for taste perversion. As seems to happen with many polyphenolic compounds in plants, some people are looking into whether there's any beneficial effects to their consumption.

There isn't much the Italians haven't used in a liqueur of some sort. Unsurprisingly, then, they have made a liqueur out of artichokes, Cynar. I'm told it contains cynarin and has the same sweet aftereffects as artichokes. I've never tried it, but I'm sure if I ever come across some, scientific curiosity will surely overwhelm any potential queasiness. Should you have some Cynar and not understand what it's all about, here's an article on learning to enjoy it. Thanks, Internet!


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I love artichokes AND sunflower seeds. They are magically delicious.

Cynar is delicious. It is an Italian bitters but hasa wonderful sweetness to it. How is cynarine pronounced? Is it chee nar in?

By Jon grunde (not verified) on 14 Sep 2010 #permalink