He sits by his shop in the Chouf Mountains and steadily and calmly cleans-up ‘akkoob for his customers. I could not help asking him where he goes to forage it. He told me he and his buddies drive two hours way up the mountains to the best spot to find it buried in the earth. I said “why don’t you wear gloves? Aren’t you afraid of getting pricked?” (this question got shrugged off).
What is ‘akkoob? It is a wild plant, similar to artichoke in taste; people in the mountains love to forage it and wax lyrical about its health benefits. It is usually prepared in fritters, or in stews, served with rice on the side. In English, it is called gundelia. I found it in Erbil in Iraq (Kurdistan region) and I was told by Asma it grows in Anatolia near Mardin (Turkey) where she is from (except much bigger there, of course).
You may be wondering: Is it worth it? Well, you can certainly buy it already cleaned-up and save hours of labor; or you can do as this man does, and pass the time cutting off its chokes in the street while greeting people and getting entertained by the constant flow of traffic. Village life is not measured in nanoseconds.
Above the cleaned-up batch is ready to go.