Did you know that Belgian endive grows in the dark?
I didn’t, until today when I preparing this post.
Here’s the story: a Belgian farmer stored his chicory roots in the cellar as he headed off to the war for Belgium’s independence from The Netherlands in 1830, and when he returned (apparently unharmed from the very short war) they had a surprise for him: the roots had grown into little bulbs with new albino leaves. Voila, a new and wonderful type of vegetable was born, a crunchy, slightly bitter, nutty head of golden-white leaves that are rich in vitamins and minerals and can be eaten raw or cooked.
I really like Belgian endive, and I appreciate that Belgian farmer, whose name was Jan Lammers. I wonder why the vitamin-laden endive variant wasn’t named after him, and how the rest of the world found out about it.
That’s why I’m writing about Belgian endive today. In its raw form, with its clean, crisp flavor and boat-like shape, this little finger-sized leaf is a perfect delivery device for richer foods. That’s how I like to use it; I’ve actually never cooked Belgian endive.
Here are a few examples from the Glover Gardens table, some from the blog archives, and a couple more recent dishes that haven’t made it onto these pages yet.
Thank you, Jan Lammers. I’m glad you returned from war unharmed to make your important discovery, and I think I will name a dish with Belgian endive after you.
© 2021, Glover Gardens