Artichokes: There are just so many reasons to love them — especially right now, as they go into peak season (March through May). But did you know that the prickly artichoke isn’t even a vegetable. It’s a “thistle.” Actually, if you want to get technical about it, an artichoke is really just a bud of a flower that has yet to bloom. How cool is that? But, because the ancient Greeks and Romans considered them to be aphrodisiacs, women weren’t allowed to partake of them in several countries until the 16th century. They’re the true forbidden fruit. Er, thistle. You can bake them, braise them, steam them, and stuff them. You can make dips out of them. You can simply enjoy them plain, or with a little melted butter. The possibilities, it seems, are practically endless. Needless to say, if you’re going to be whipping up a recipe featuring one of these beauties, you’ll want to put your best foot forward. We’ve rounded up our favorite artichoke-friendly kitchen gadgets and accessories so that you can worry less about how they’ll turn out, and more about wooing your dinner date with those alleged aphrodisiac qualities.

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