Mon, 26 Apr 1999

Dear Mister Wonderful,

How did people decide/discover that artichokes were edible? They (the artichokes) don't seem particularly comestible, what with being bitterly fiberous and chock full of thorny goodness. Did this discovery happen before or after Benjamin Franklin invented mayonnaise?


Leon Panetta

p.s. Thank you for your forum. I've been looking for an opportunity to use the phrase "chock full of thorny goodness" since the unfortunate bicycle/blackberry bramble incident last summer.



Dear Frugal Gourmet,

That Benjamin Franklin invented mayonnaise is a common fallacy. In fact, he was merely the first person to exploit the rich naturally occurring deposits of mayonnaise beneath Philadelphia. It was the Mayo mines that supported Poore Richard's Almanack through the later, "suckier" period.

Mister Wonderful has never ever in his whole life ever tried artichokes. They just don't make sense. Eating vegetables is bad enough; why would you try to tackle a fat cactus? And don't give me that "delicious in butter" line. If I want butter, I'll eat it out of the tub like everyone else. So I cannot explain the reasoning here, but I can give you a few clues.

1. Artichokes are from the fertile areas around the Mediterranean.

2. So is wine.

3. And beer.

4. Mankind has been making intoxicants longer than they have been writing.

5. A long night of drinking leaves you a) hungry, b) horny, and c) with poor decision making skills.

6. Kentucky Fried Chicken was not invented until 1952.

7. There are few things in human history that cannot be explained by drunkenness, stupidity, or both.

Thank you for your query. Good luck with the bicycle.