Jan 18

Endive: A Vegetable With a Unique History

in Endive, Health & Nutrition

For day 3 of the 12 Days of Endive, let’s talk history!

Day 3, 12 Days of Endive

Endive has a unique story—it’s a youngster in the vegetable world, which is ironic considering that the root it’s grown from, called chicory, is one of the earliest plants cited in recorded literature.  Endive, on the other hand, was a relatively recent discovery, thanks to a lucky accident.  In 1830, a farmer named Jan Lammers in Brussels, Belgium, stored some chicory roots in his cellar because he was planning to dry and roast them for coffee (it was commonly used as an additive or coffee substitute).  But then he left his farm for several months to serve in the Belgian War of Independence, and when he returned he discovered that his chicory roots had sprouted small, white leaves that were tender, crunchy, and delicious.  A Belgian botanist named Brézier then went on to refine cultivation to the point where it could be grown commercially.  Markets in Brussels began carrying endive in 1846, and then in 1872 it was introduced in Paris and it became so popular that it was nicknamed “white gold.”

Today endive is grown all over the world, including in the United States.  But in the US it is only grown here in California by California Vegetable Specialities, a company started by Richard Collins who caught the endive fever as a young man while working in a French restaurant in Sacramento.  Who knew a little inconspicuous looking vegetable could have such an interesting history?

* Disclosure: The 12 of Days of Endive is part of my ongoing work as an OnDiva for Discover Endive. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy January 19, 2012 at 5:40 am

What!? I never knew endive & chicory were even related, let alone the same thing! I love starting my day learning something completely new.


Urban Wife January 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm

How interesting!


OriginSpecious April 15, 2019 at 9:45 pm

Now I’m going to make endive coffee.


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