ar'9ii shuukii

This edible thistle has quite a history. Native to the Mediterranean, the Greeks first referred to it as "kaktos"But in 9th century, the Arabs cultivated the plant in Muslim Spain and North Africa, improved it and sent it on a journey across Europe.

People in Sicily, Naples, Florence all the way to London fell for this  "aphrodisiacal tidbit." It's name? al-khashuuf.

The image above shows the thistle harvested and ready to cook. But when in bloom, it's altogether another story:

The Arabic word al-khashuuf inspired the European adaptations - artichoke, artichaut, alcachofa, carciofo, carxofa. 

But al-khashuuf has evolved over time even within the Arabic language. Today in Kuwait, you'll hear it referred to as arDii shuukii. The first word, arDii, means earthy. The second, shuukii, means spiky. 

I like to think that in Kuwait, all things simple and the succinct are still valued even in the face of extravagance. So call a spade a spade, as the saying goes. And call an artichoke an earthy-spiky.

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