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.

i-e555c227f2cd030de91a7150089ecb5b-cynarin.gif

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!

Tags

More like this

I'm almost cheating, since this one is so closely related to cynarin. Chlorogenic acid is yet another compound found in artichokes, as well as coffee. In addition to modulating your ability to taste sweetness (though not in the levels or conditions found in coffee, it would seem), it has some…
(This entry was from 12/22/05 thus the Xmas reference) Well here I am in rainy Seattle visiting the inlaws. Last night we prepared artichokes for dinner. Naturally the conversation turned to how the consumption of artichoke has a curious effect on the sense of taste: everything tastes sweet even…
Younger offspring: The bad thing about all the Canada geese on the fields this summer is that the fields have lots of goose poop. Dr. Free-Ride: Well, geese gotta poop. Younger offspring: I don't like stepping in goose poop when we're playing soccer. Dr. Free-Ride: I can understand that. Elder…
I am not sure that it would make sense to grow artichokes, if the garden were serving to supply food in a crisis.  But we are not having a crisis yet, so we can have fun.  Artichokes are good, but the amount of food you get, per unit of garden, is not great. The artichoke was sort of an impulse…

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