I often see these weird pointy cones wrapped in cellophane and sometimes framed by an annoying styrofoam plate. They remind me of Dan Akroyd and that awkward alien sex scene I accidentally witnessed when I was too young, and also really bad raspberry dressing with chunks of processed blue cheese (omg 1990 was not good to the Endive).
My point is, the Endive is a queer ingredient. And the memories it invokes are purely awkward, queer, weirdness... and it's not bad. It's just... queer.
To be fair, this cone-headed vegetable is delicious. Endives are crunchy, sweet, and tender. Individual leaves are perfect little boats for all sorts of lovely mousses and seasonal morsels and dressings and cheeses... actually, they are like little love boats... (Maybe that cone head movie is actually super romantic? I dunno, I've had a couple glasses of wine and feeling really emotional rn)
Endives are actually a species of Chicory, which is a group of plants that is found in most parts of the world. This particular species is best as a winter vegetable. I used to think its seasonal and local availability was why it might be a little pricey, but after I did some research I realized the price point is not only because of its availability, but also because Endives are a creative and weird, weird, weirrrrddd thing to produce. They're kind of like the foie gras of lettuce, minus any cruelty.
According to Rodale's Organic Life, this is how you grow an endive (paraphrased though queer nostalgia and red wine):
...sow seeds outdoors in late spring in loose soil [...] Dig up the roots in fall, and cut off the tops 2 inches above the crown. Trim the roots and set them upright in boxes, deep pots, or a plastic 5-gallon bucket. Fill the containers with potting mix to the tops of the roots; add 6 to 8 inches of sand on top of that (wtf who has that much sand, ever). Set the pots in your fucking closet or in another spot where the temperature stays between 60° and 70°F. don't forget to water it, obvs. Harvest the heads (teehee) when their tips (hehehe) peek (heh) up through the sand.
So basically, you take these roots out of the ground when they are already producing normal greens that are bitter. To make them not-bitter, and strangely delicious, repot them in a big bin or something and cover them with sand. Hide them indoors and don't forget about them. Eventually these chicory roots will produce tight, coney clusters of joy and love. Apparently this technique was popularized in Belgium, hence the name Belgian Endive, although, of course, wasn't initially discovered by a white dude named Jan because other parts of the world were far ahead in their culinary adventures (see: Indonesia, Egypt, et al). No, I won't call it 'White Gold,' thanks.
I'm going to try doing this with my red varieties of chicory for a light red or pink version of an Endive. You can actually do the same thing with asparagus to get that weird 'white' asparagus that has no flavour and less nutrition, which seems silly to me, but apparently royalty enjoys that kinda shit so if you have that kind of a sparkly crown, go for it.
That good ol' nugget, HuffPost has a bunch of recipes for endives if you're interested.
Anyway, endives are cool, and they are a true winter delicacy and available locally or you could try to grow them if you're really keen or whatever.
this is a post that I end in a question mark, maybe.