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E is for Endive
This is a public service announcement. Repeat this is a public service announcement. Please be on the lookout for this suspicious looking creature:
This suspect is commonly known as “Belgian Endive”, “French Endive”, or “Witloof Chicory”. But his friends know him as just plain “Endive”.
Endive is known for his bitter taste. Which is the reason it is hard to catch him. Bitter is mostly avoided but for some reason (maybe the fact that once you get to know him better the taste to your palate is much milder) this fellow seems to be spotted at the most elegant and upscale restaurants. Upon further investigation, it appears that he is actually invited to each occasion.
His popularity might also be due to his flexibility. He can be seen either raw the day he was harvested or cooked which hides his even more from prying eyes. He is a quick fellow that seems to end up in so many places and in different outfits. It has been reported that he has been around the entrees, salads, soups, and even the appetizers. He likes to make his way around the dinner table.
All the benefits he brings to any relationship helps with his popularity, too. He is loaded to the brim with fiber, folate, and vitamins A and K. So many people are seeking these attributes in all their dining companions so it is no surprise that endive has become the hit of the dinner party or even lunch crowd.
The attempts to find him have led us to other members of his family which includes the attractive daisy and the hot radicchio. We were unable to attain much information from his relatives except to say that they never know when he will pop up. It was discovered that everyone now and then he hides in the patch of lettuce since the growth of an endive is treated like the lettuce. What a great cover-up!
I did ask a local farmer who seemed to be quite familiar with this escape artist and he did enlighten me on a few things. I am looking for a character that has leaves of almost pure white and are very tightly close to each other. They will be at least 1 inch thick and 4 to 6 inches long. That really helped me in my search and gave me a better description to put out to all officials.
An old mentor of mine always said that to understand today you have to look to yesterday. So, I began a search into endive’s history. It took me on a voyage across the ocean and into Belgium. I found so many people who loved endive and dedicated their lives to him and his immediate family. Everyone of them told me the same history of endive. It seems that between 1830 and 1840 a farmer was working the fields. News came that there was to be a new tax on chicory root which was used in some places as a coffee type beverage. Like any person who would be deprived of their favorite drink, they hid it. The farmer took his chicory root down into his cellar and instead of using it immediately, he buried it under some sand and went about his life preparing for winter like he always did. What happened next explains a lot about endive’s current nature and why he is currently being sought. When the farmer ventured back into cellar as winter was waning away, he discovered that the root he had buried had sprouted leaves that were long, tightly bound together, and appealed to a person’s eye. It had after all been months since the farmer had seen fresh produce. He took a chance and a bite, and as they say the rest is history.
I had a better appreciation for endive and, I have to be honest, I was beginning to feel a small attraction toward him. Felt that I needed to get to know him better.
A New Appreciation
I got back home and with this new appreciation I began to notice in more places. It might be because he knew that I was a little more sympathetic to his cause. I discovered him in a dish called Braised Belgian Endive. It was a wonderful dish as a side to my roast beef. I later discovered him in Belgian Endive and Ham Au Gratin. I love ham so this really got my attention. A few days later he was found in Italian Endive soup. I went back for seconds on this one. Ah, but my favorite was found in Lemon and Sage Roasted Chicken with Carmalized Endive.
His versatility was amazing. I couldn’t get enough. I had judged wrong. His popularity was well-deserved and I was proud to know him.