Bystanders choke after the Jerusalem Artichoke

Is it wrong that I knowingly made my husband gassy purely for my own entertainment?

Let me backtrack a bit.  This week, my strange, dangerous food was the Jerusalem Artichoke.  They look like this:

As usual, I decided to eat them because I had no idea what they were.  I’ll have to ask my mother if I was always that kid everyone had to childproof against because I was always eating mysterious objects off the carpet.  At least now the fact that my foods are found in markets and grocery stores suggests that they’re edible.  Most of the time (see guava post).

Anyway, their name is kind of interesting.  It turns out that Jerusalem Artichokes (also called sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple, or topinambour) have nothing to do with Jerusalem or artichokes, but were named that because they are the tuber of a sunflower, which Italians call girasole; (kind of like Jerusalem) and because they taste kind of like an artichoke, although they’re not one.  Might be best to use one of their other names going forward.

And as for their taste?  I found this quote about them early on in my research, post-purchase, but pre-preparation:

“which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men.”  John Goodyer, 1621

Mmmmm, that’s good eatin.  Apparently they’re a great source of inulin, which we can’t digest, so it needs to be … exited.  So I fed some to my husband, because he was about to get on a plane.

Now you may find this mean.  You may wonder why I would knowingly sabotage my husband’s digestive system as he was about to enter a confined space with a few hundred innocent passengers.  Innocent children.  The elderly.

I’ve narrowed it down to the following three reasons:

  1. Gas in a confined space is funny, especially if you’re the one who doesn’t have to observe it in person.
  2. Phil always sniffs food I prepare for him before he eats it, partly because he thinks I’m frugal and that I push the boundaries of food freshness.  I admit to the former, but not the latter.  My bitterness about his mistrust for my cooking despite having cooked for him daily for well over eight years may have peeked through
  3. I was sure that he would tell me proud stories afterward about how he had successfully blamed his gas on someone else for the duration of the flight, and I wanted to see how well I knew him

But before you think I’m evil, I did read something that said that if you add an acid to your Jerusalem artichoke dish it reduces its “effects,” so I did this, preparing a salad in a vinaigrette.  Which brings me to reason #4:

4.  I wanted to see if vinegar really reduces the gaseous effects of the sunchoke

So you see, it was all done in the name of science.  Here’s the recipe I improvised based on what else was in my fridge:

Bold Sunchoke Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette (serves 2)

  • 2 small handfuls arugula or other greens
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • 5 sunchokes, washed and quartered (no need to peel) (substitute radish if you can’t find)
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 small wedges brie cheese
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3Tbsp Truffle Balsamic Vinegar (or plain balsamic vinegar, but the truffle one is delicious)
  • 3Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Pinch of brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:  Mix the arugula and basil together, adding sunchokes, tomatoes, brie, and topping with feta.  In a small bowl, whisk vinaigrette ingredients together with sugar, salt and pepper, and dress the salad.

Results:  This was a bold, fresh salad.  Flavourless salads bug me, especially if I’ve paid for one at a restaurant.  The truffle balsamic combined very well with the earthiness of the root veg.  Phil naively ate the whole thing.

After effects:  TBD.  Check in later for Phil’s commentary.  I thought I got off scot-free until that night when I was a bit “windy” (Isn’t that just a pretty little British term?), but that could have been because my daughter insisted on pizza to console herself after her daddy left on his flight.

Rating:  2 Yums for the salad, 1 Gag for the Jerusalem artichoke.  If you come across these at a market, make sure to “cut them loose” (FYI: Wiktionary says that’s a synonym for fart and I’m trying to be cute).  Substitute something else earthy like radish or beet in the salad and you’ll have a winner.

Beverage pairing:  Usually I choose a wine from to go with my recipes, but in this case I believe the best pairing would be…


  1. Leave a Reply

    Ann Allchin
    December 1, 2012

    Update: Phil said he did have gas on that flight, but that luckily he was upgraded so the enhanced walls of his seat acted like a protective barrier. 🙂

  2. Leave a Reply

    Jackie Dale
    December 1, 2012

    That was hilarious. I think I will steer clear of the Jerusalem Artichoke! 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      December 4, 2012

      I still have some in the crisper. I can always run them over?

  3. Leave a Reply

    December 3, 2012

    Lol. I like the beverage pairing. Poor Phil, or rather, poor people near him. ps: Love the idea of truffle balsamic. I’ve never tried that! Where did you get yours?

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      December 4, 2012

      My friend gave me the truffle balsamic as a gift, so where it came from is a mystery! Makes an awesome reduction though!

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