Bitter Root, Blanched Leaf
Lettuces and their ilk are cropping up at a rate like daytime temperatures at this time-of-year.  As leafy greens go, chicory is among the most variegated--in cultivar, cultivation, and preparation.  Farmed chicory is grown to either emphasize its leaves--as an aforementioned lettuce--or its root, commonly roasted for use with or in lieu of coffee. Radicchio and puntarelle are the two subtypes of leafy chicory that are most commonly grown.  Their bitterness can be tamed with a saltwater soak or blanching.  Classically, chicory's bitterness is augmented by charring over coals, in a pan, or in an oven--to offset fat, sugar, or to simply add complexity.  Butter-braising's also popular.
The most luxurious of cultivated chicories is the Belgian endive.  Developed from an accidental discovery, this variation is essentially grown twice.  Horticultural blanching, a practice not to be confused with is culinary homonym, involves growing crops completely shielded from light.  This is a finicky practice that prevents the development of chlorophyll; the resultant plant possesses albinism as well as a delicate nature in taste and texture.  Back to the Belgian endive--root chicory is grown, harvested, and replanted in a substrate such as sawdust, to be blanched.  This results in very small heads of delicate leaves, that remains photosensitive even after harvest.  They're particularly popular in fancy settings, leaf-by-leaf, as a base for many canapés!
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