Although this plant is native to China and Japan (which is why it's also called Chinese artichoke and Japanese artichoke), its name hails from Crosnes, France, where it was first cultivated after the French began importing it from China in the late 19th century. It's also known as chorogi, Crosnes du Japon and knotroot. Crosnes are small tubers that resemble ivory-colored caterpillars. They have a sweet, nutty flavor similar to that of a sunchoke. Though rarely available in the United States, they can sometimes be found in specialty produce markets in the winter. Purchase those that are firm and light colored. Refrigerate in an open bowl for up to a week. Before using, scrub crosnes with a vegetable brush. They can be eaten raw, or boiled, baked or steamed. See also artichoke.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.