from left to right: romanesco - violetto - moretto (i've also seen it as morello boh.)
these are the three main types of artichokes available. The most common is probably the moretti variety on the far right. When in season (towards the end now) artichokes can be found absolutely everywhere. they are eaten raw (thinly sliced and dressed in lemon and olive oil), in artichoke risotto, with pasta, steamed, boiled, sauteed, baked and of course fried. here in tuscany it is most common to fry them in a pastella or batter, while in rome the famous carciofi alla giudia (using the romanesco variety) are simply fried whole, with a little complicated step whereby you drop some water into the boiling oil. The resulting bubbling opens up the artichoke, crisping the outer leaves and allowing the inside to thoroughly cook.
i remember always liking artichokes.
now i am practically dreading the end of the artichoke season...