Nicholas Horsfall, The Epic Distilled: Studies in the Composition of the Aeneid
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), p. 1:
modern Rome, in the spring, if you want to buy an artichoke, a carciofo
(also good Italian for 'blockhead'), you carry off from your chosen
market stall a delectable little jewel, neatly trimmed and edible in all its
parts:1 the outer leaves have been removed, the base trimmed, and the
choke, anyway very small in a young carciofo, has also been removed.
Steam, dress, eat. In Britain, however, the patient feeder removes a
couple of leaves from the cooked artichoke (a large, mature specimen,
inevitably), dips them in vinaigrette and sucks off a tiny quantity of
succulent flesh from the base of the leaves. As you proceed towards the
centre, the quantity does increase, noticeably. But then progress comes
to a complete halt, as you have to detach every trace of the inedible
choke (ital., 'barba', beard). Now at last you have reached the delectable
'heart'. A quarter of a century ago, I thought that this long, slow
struggle was not bad as a metaphor for our struggle to reach the heart
of a difficult passage in the Aeneid. It still seems not bad at all.
1 What happens in the supermarket I simply do not know.