Pagès has chosen to use Chicory in its creations. Its sweet taste reminiscent of caramel or hazelnut depending on the palate, brings a sweet and exquisite note to the tasting.
Chicory, a plant with many distinct varieties
Origins of chicory
Originally from Europe, Asia and North Africa, Chicory quickly spread to most of the Earth's temperate climates. In France, Escarole Chicory and Curly Chicory have been enjoyed in salads since ancient times. However, their production has been decreasing since the 1990s, mainly due to Spanish competition.
At the beginning of the 13th century, the appearance of large-scale roasting in Holland made chicory a common consumer product, comparable to coffee.
Characteristics of chicory
Name: Cichorium intybus
Species: Perennial plant
Wild Chicory is a hardy perennial plant, annual or biennial, widespread throughout the northern hemisphere. It can reach a height of up to one meter. Its long, slender stem carries thin, rigid branches that form an obtuse angle with the stem. It is illuminated by elegant capitulas composed of languid flowers at the end of summer. Tender pale blue, Chicory flowers are very popular with insects. Its rosette-shaped leaves, similar in appearance to dandelion leaves, are deeply divided into wide or inverted lobes.
It is a very common plant, found in meadows, uncultivated places, fallow fields and along roadsides. There are six to nine species of Chicory, two of which are responsible for cultivated salads. There are Endive Chicory, Curly Chicory, Escarole Chicory, Industrial Chicory, Wild Chicory, Witloof Chicory, Broadleaf Chicory (also known as "Capuchin Beard"), Improved Wild Chicory, Italian Chicory, Catalan Chicory, etc.
It can be planted from May to June and harvested almost a year later (in March or April). This plant is one of the few that flowers both in winter (November, December, January and February) and in summer (August, September, October). It is said that cold would improve the taste of Italian Chicory.
Chicory is grown for its roots, classic coffee substitutes, or for its leaves.
Uses of chicory
Chicory has been well known since the introduction of the drink with the same name on the market. Used to replace coffee, or to be mixed with it, Chicory is a soluble powder obtained from the combination of the dehydrated plant, water and carbohydrates. This emblematic drink from Nord-Pas-de-Calais, the region is the world leader in chicory production with more than 95% of French production, does not contain caffeine, it has taste notes similar to those of Coffee, while avoiding the disadvantages associated with excessive caffeine consumption.
We also think of salad when we talk about Chicory! Its young leaves can be eaten like a lettuce at the beginning of a meal. It is said to stimulate the appetite. Its slightly bitter taste is original and allows, by combining it with condiments, cold meats or a few bread croutons, to offer an appetizer that is both simple and tasty to one' s guests.
Benefits of chicory
Chicory is classified as a "healthy food". Chicory leaves contain vitamins and minerals. Its leaves and root are the most commonly used parts in therapeutic medicine.
It is said to stimulate the intestinal flora and to ensure digestion.