The beautiful Artichoke is basically an unopened flower bud.
It its from the Mediterranean region. If left to flower the flower would be a lovely purple stringy one.
To cook and eat them, first you must clip off the ends of the leaves and steam the bud. When it's soft, pull off the leaves and dip in a melted butter sauce and then scrape the inside of the leaf with your teeth. Eat all the petals then you are treated to the yummiest part, the heart.