25 October 2011


Endive. A character from Chowder. I've always known it as some lettuce-y thing, perhaps deep green, with leaves like holly, except more spindly and elongated. Well, I was wrong. Endive is to spindly holly the way a stingray is to a blubbery blue whale. Endive looks like this:
and I never knew.

 So... what do I do with endive? Why would I try this? Well, it was homework, from my mentor at Monell. We're discussing bitter foods and why people eat them, and of course, genetics plays a large role. For example, I personally don't find broccoli bitter at all, but some people with a different haplotype think that it is bitter. My mentor thinks that endive is really bitter, but for me... it was pretty much lettuce. Watery, slightly lettuce-stem-y, ending with a slight bitter note. Bitter melon is definitely more bitter. Raw asparagus is more bitter. Heck, weak coffee is more bitter, in my opinion. See, I love Monell because I'm doing research, sort of, by exploring new foods and applying these scientific taste ideas into my life. Another perspective that I've never considered is this idea, which I've simplified here for lay understanding: 

In a sandwich, there's:
1. Sweet in onion
2. Umami in tomato
3. Bitter in watercress
4. Sweat odor in cheese
5. Boar taint in ham

Let's say I have the genotype +/+ for 1. and 2. Let's say SP has the +/+ genotype for 3. 4. and 5. This means that I'd enjoy the sandwich much more than SP would. 
(Reed, Danielle R., and Antti Knaapila. "Genetics of Taste and Smell: Poisons and Pleasures."Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science 94 (2010): 231. Print.
Reference: DOI: 10.1016/S1877-1173(10)94008-8)

I know it's an oversight, but I've never considered haplotypes in taste receptors as a reason why people would dislike the taste of a soup or a marinade. It just never occurred to me.
My mentor told me that they make the white endive by putting opaque bags over them so that there is no chlorophyll development (therefore, no green pigment). This reminds me of white asparagus. I guess I personally prefer there to be chlorophyll, because I like green. Also, chlorophyll has magnesium, which I would ingest, and I don't know enough plant biology to know whether white plants have magnesium stored elsewhere...
 So, what to do with endive? Cook it? I prefer to eat leafy vegetables raw, though. I just ripped it up and stuck it in some spaghetti with chili sauce and Chinese spiced bamboo shoots.
I also stuck some in a crunchy peanut butter sandwich with dried cranberries. This isn't weird for me because I love lettuce and peanut butter sandwiches. I also love cucumber and peanut butter sandwiches. Actually, I'm sure any vegetable goes well with peanut butter. Yes, even tomato (tomato in a peanut curry would probably be fantastic. I might try that one day).

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