Don’t Mess with a Crone when It Comes to Crones
OK, if you look like George Clooney, we’ll let you get away with it. And perhaps schedule a private myMEGusta tutorial.
The scenario: Bouchard, a fabulous French restaurant in Newport, Rhode Island.
The protagonists: Above-mentioned waiter advising one of my dinner companions that the squiggly looking things in his Petite Marmite were NOT artichokes, rather they are crones, having “nothing whatsoever to do with artichokes, Miss.” (That’s me. He gets points for not saying “Madame”.)
Actually, we were both right and both wrong.
These little tubers are known variously as Chinese artichokes, Japanese artichokes, crones, crosnes, chorogi and knotroot.
Native to Asia, it is said that the First Western cultivation was in Crosne, in northern France, hence the name. A member of the mint family, they still grow wild in north China, and have many relatives in the western hemisphere, what we could call weeds. Some websites will counsel as to how to forage for them; MyMEgusta does not advocate this unless you are really certain of what you’re looking for, as crones and their relatives also have medicinal uses.
Crones are comparable to jicama or water chestnuts in flavor and texture. They can sometimes be found fresh in upscale or farmers markets, as well as Asian markets where you’ll also find them salted and/or pickled.
Treat fresh crones as you would water chestnuts in stir fries, or add them to soup or salad for a nice crunchy accent. They are about 23 calories per ounce, not bad considering that a little will go a long way to make a dish visually and texturally interesting.