The artichoke (Cynara Scolymus) is grown mainly in the Mediterranean regions and in areas enjoying a mild climate. Its consumption dates back more than two thousand years. These plants were already considered by the ancients as an appreciable food, and were recommended especially with cilantro, wine, olive oil and Garum, name of a famous fish sauce used in antiquity. It is a large thistle as indicated by the Arabic roots of its name “espina de terra”. This big thistle appears in the coat of arms of the city of Benicarló as a reflection of the importance that this product had, since ancient times in our area.
In Benicarló has always had a strong roots among farmers and for several years is celebrated the Artichoke Festival, with a series of socio-cultural events that culminate with a great “torrada” of artichokes.
Among the qualities of the artichoke, its edible part provides 12% of carbohydrates, whose sixth part is a very peculiar sugar, inulin, which is well tolerated even by diabetics. In addition it is attributed traditional medicinal properties, but without scientific basis, for example, it is considered that they produce a favorable effect on liver and kidney functions.
The production and commercialization of the current artichoke began at the end of the decade of the 40s, that is to say half a century ago. Undoubtedly, the farmer in this area, already accustomed to the cultivation of ‘carxofes i cardets’ from time immemorial and knowing well the yield that could be obtained in this land, did not hesitate to grow it on a large scale as soon as the trade spread and markets nationals were approached by road transport.
On September 18, 1998, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the ‘Generalitat Valenciana’, ratified the Denomination of Origin “Artichoke of Benicarló”. This ratification, which fills them with pride, is the result of a common effort carried out with rigor and honesty, but above all, it is the necessary encouragement for their main objective to be more valid today than ever: Achieve the satisfaction by offering you year after year the best product of their lands.
The artichoke, product with Denomination of Origin, is the protagonist of this festival that is celebrated in January, where popular tastings of all kinds of dishes prepared with Artichoke of Benicarló are prepared. The restaurants of the city prepare complete menus in the Gastronomic Days of the Artichoke.