Botanical name: Cichorium intybus
Origins and history
chicory has been used since the dawn of human history. The etymology of the name is unknown and the hypotheses are different: perhaps it derives from the Arabic chikouryeh, or from the Egyptian kichorion word formed by Kio = I and Chorion = field, for the ancient Greeks it was kichora or kichòria. You will never know. On the other hand, it is known that Galen, a physician from ancient Greece, recommended it to treat liver ailments. The credit for fixing the name in chicorium goes to the botanist Linnaeus who classified it using this Latin term in his famous publication "Species Plantarum" published in 1753.
Since then, the chicory plant with many names has officially become Cichorium.
With a height of between twenty centimeters and one and a half meters, this vegetable can be found all over the world. It grows everywhere and does not need particular soil or climatic conditions. Chicory can be found at altitudes above a thousand meters or near the sea.
The classic plant has originated many popular varieties of chicory, including: the red chicory of Chioggia and that of Treviso, the beard of cappuccino and the catalonia salad, and the Belgian endive.
Properties and benefits of Chicory
Some brewers add the roasted chicory root to enhance the flavor. Biofuel can also be extracted from the chicory root because the starch contained can be transformed into ethyl alcohol. Chicory can be added to the forage given to farm animals because it helps eliminate parasites from the intestine. A blue dye can be obtained from chicory leaves.
The chicory contained, together with mineral salts and vitamins, makes this vegetable useful for the human organism, as it has astringent and tonics, as well as detoxifiers and disinfectants. Combats drowsiness and activates concentration. The intake of chicory is recommended for those suffering from high cholesterol and diabetes, because it regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. It stimulates digestion and fights acne. It is also good for hair, skin, liver and intestines. Consumed raw, chicory provides a good supply of vitamins while cooked it acts on intestinal peristalsis.
Use of the chicory in the kitchen
One pound of this bitter-tasting vegetable provides only 23 calories. The variety of wild chicory, known as dandelion or dandelion, is the richest in vitamins and minerals. Chicory can be cooked in various ways. Some examples: after being blanched in hot water, it can be sautéed in a pan with a little oil, a clove of garlic and red pepper, and here is a tasty and useful side dish to combat the hateful orange peel. and remove excess fat.
A typical Apulian dish is mashed beans and chicory. Very simple to prepare: wash about four ounces of broad beans well, boil them and then pass them through a blender. Salt and pepper to taste. Separately prepare the vegetables in a pan as indicated above. Give your favorite shape to the bean puree and cover it with the cooked leaves, so as to present a dish that is pleasing to the eye and appreciated not only by vegetarians.
In the language of flowers, chicory represents frugality and temperance. When a boy thought of declaring his feelings to his loved one, he would put a little chicory in his pocket as a good luck charm.
A German legend tells that a princess left by her knight who preferred a nymph asked her to die and never see the traitor again. At the same time his bridesmaids also asked to die but to always be seen by those who had caused so much pain in their mistress, so that she could never forget. Their request was granted and as the princess became a beautiful white flower, the bridesmaids were turned into blue flowers, those same blue flowers, of the variety of wild chicory found everywhere along the roads and in the fields. This is why in Germany this plant is also called wegwart which means guardian of the roads.
A rumor has it that the variety of wild chicory is capable of awakening eros in males.
During the last war, given the shortage of food, a substitute for coffee was prepared with chicory. Who could not afford the original grains, took the plant, chopped it and boiled it and here is ready a pleasant drink even if poor. In fact this preparation was already known in France at the time of Napoleon. In those days it was a substitute today this substitute is sold for its intrinsic properties.