The article explains that artichokes naturally contain an acid called cynarin. You won't actually taste the cynarin, but it causes the next bite of whatever you eat to taste just a little sweeter than it otherwise would.
Harold McGee explains this phenomenon a little further in his book On Food and Cooking. He says that the cynarin inhibits your sweet-perceiving taste buds. When you take your next bite of food, the cynarin is washed away and our brains interpret the before-and-after contrast as a flood of sweetness.
Apparently this sweetening effect makes it difficult to pair wine with artichoke dishes and gives sommeliers a headache. But Saveur argues that you can actually use this knowledge to your advantage and pair artichokes with wines that could benefit from a little extra sweetness. They suggest dry champagnes and Italian barberas.
Now that we know about this, we'd also like to try intentionally pairing artichokes with other foods and side dishes where the hit of sweetness could work well. Imagine eating a bite of bitter greens after a few artichokes, or maybe even a spicy curry!
If you try any experiments yourself, let us know!
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