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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Endive, C. endivia, is a close relative of chicory, but is a hardy annual or biennial, not a perennial. Wild forms grow in the same area as chicory, but also extend further to the east, to India and beyond. The wild plant is particularly abundant in Italy. It is thought to have originated in the remote past as a hybrid between chicory and another member of the genus C. pumilum (one of the wild lakhanika or radicchie gathered in Greece and Italy); but it has been a distinct species since prehistoric times. Cultivated types are curly endive (confusingly called in French chicorée frisée, meaning ‘frizzy chicory’) which resembles a huge, untidy green wig; and broad-leafed varieties commonly termed ‘batavia’ and ‘escarole’.