I have a very dear friend whom I have known since university days, who is a pretty strict vegetarian. No leather handbags or shoes or buffalo hide jackets for this girlie, oh no, even her cats have been raised as vegetarians, at least whilst in her presence . (You know how canny cats can be – they once admitted to me that they nipped down the road after hours for a quick mouseburger but didn’t like to upset the mistress too much so all was kept very hush hush). Whenever my friend and her adorable family come to stay we attempt at least for a few meals to adopt their eating habits and try some new meat-free dishes. There have been some real successes – our delicious morning fruit smoothies for example – but a few things have been sampled once, never to be retained in our daily menu. The artichoke is one such, even when presented impeccably with a fine vinaigrette dressing, I’m afraid I still prefer it as a beautiful oddity to observe and photograph than as a culinary delicacy. I’m sure I’m a philistine but here are some photos to show how much prettier they would be in a vase than on a plate……..