I just read the tips on How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke from Elise on Simply Recipes. Well let me add my own take from the persepective of someone born in Brittany (not California).
I agree on everything that Elise says about artichokes. A couple of minor differences, I never bothered to cut the ends of the leaves and neither did my mother, aunts and others that cooked it for me. As far as the way we eat it, it is either cold with a vinaigrette or warm with a sauce of melted butter to which we add red wine vinegar as the butter finishes to melt.
Brittany is a big growing region for artichokes, especially on the Channel side (or should I say la Manche). Brittany, the kitchen at the end of the earth is a good article on bretton staples.
A friend of mine even sold artichoke flowers to tourists some summers ago. There is also a liquor named Cynar made with artichokes in the PO region of Italy.