1. Listen For the Noisy Artichoke
You know those baby toys that let out a little squeak when you squeeze them? Turns out those rubber giraffes have something in common with artichokes, says Marcy Smothers, author of Snacks: Adventures in Food, Aisle by Aisle
. Smothers spent years amassing all kinds of strange-but-useful tidbits about the foods we eat. She'd heard an old wives' tale that the best artichokes make noise when you give them a pinch, and she tested the theory to see if it works. Turns out that if these leafy thistles are fresh, they will squeak softly when you hold them close to your ear and press gently from both sides. The sound means they're well hydrated—which is exactly what you want, whether you're boiling, steaming, roasting or baking them. And don't discount artichokes that have white blisters or blotches during the winter months. They're "frost-kissed," says Smothers, with a nutty flavor and tender texture.