When first presented with an artichoke, I assumed my hosts were having a laugh at my expense. Apparently they were not. This inedible thistle was a genuine foodstuff. The laughter that followed was a result of my attmepts to eat it. Still, live 'n learn

What follows is a guide to eating aforementioned vegetable without looking like a pillock.

Served stuffed or plain, usually with hot drawn lemon butter, hollandaise, mayonnaise or vinaigrette.

Tear a leaf from the cooked, presented artichoke with your fingertips and pull it through your teeth to remove the edible pulp. (Hold the pointed tip and put the fleshy wider end into your mouth.) If your artichoke is accompanied by lemon butter or vinaigrette, dip the edible end and quickly bring it to your mouth. With a thicker sauce, handle the edible end like a corn chip. If the artichoke is stuffed, peel off a leaf and spread the stuffing onto it with a knife. When you reach the thin inner leaves, discard them. You may hold the bottom of the artichoke steady on your plate with a fork and use your fingers to pull them off. Doing so reveals the artichoke's hairy center, which you do not eat. Remove it instead, and you are left with the vegetable's favored "heart." This can be cut into pieces and eaten plain, or else dipped in whatever accompanies your artichoke.