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Lesson Transcript

Culture File - France, Lesson 23 - Impress Your Friends with a Traditional French Dish with Endives!
Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: France series at FrenchPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring essential cultural information about France, French culture, and French people. In this lesson, we’re going to learn about a common ingredient in French cuisine - endives. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 23 - Impress Your Friends with a French Dish with Endives!
If you want to impress your friends at the dinner table in France, you ought to consider using endives, in French pronounced endives, as an ingredient. Be brave and prepare an original dish that would seem very traditional for most French people—endives with ham. It was through an unexpected discovery in the middle of 19th century that someone stumbled across the endive. A Belgian farmer, in French fermier, while one day looking in on his abandoned wild chicory seedlings in his cellar, realized that the endives had continued their growth and changed into a new and undiscovered vegetable, or légume. Appreciating the subtle taste of this vegetable, he decided to sell it. In France, the first endives were sold in the Markets of Paris in the fall of 1879, but really were never intended to gain the popularity they enjoy today.
The endive is also referred to as chicory or witloof, meaning "white leaves" in Flemish, due to the fact that it’s shaped like an oblique cluster of taut white leaves. The cluster is white due to lack of exposure to the sun, in French soleil. Today, endives are mainly cultivated in the shade at 20 degrees celcius in containers filled with a nutritious solution in order to facilitate their harvest, or récolte.
Moreover, this new means of production allows this vegetable, originally harvested in winter, to be consumed year-round. Although cultivation of this vegetable has only been in full swing since the 1950s, today France produces the majority of endives in the worldwide market, with a total of 220,000 tons yearly, 85% of those coming from Northern France and Picardy.
Although low in calories and simple to prepare, this vegetable doesn’t enjoy much popularity amongst children. It can be quite bitter, or in French amer, so adding sugar is a good option to coax youngsters into eating it. However, this suggestion comes as a shock to some purists who insist that adding sugar detracts from the pure essence of the dish, its bitterness.
Endive-based recipes include mixed salads, steamed side dishes, and in particular the popular French endive recipe called endives à la béchamel, which consists of endives and ham slices covered with shredded gruyere cheese.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
What dish will you try preparing with endives?
Leave a comment telling us at FrenchPod101.com! Until next time!