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March 11, 2006

A Case of Mistaken Vegetable Identity, Part 2

So, I went to the supermarket this evening to get some stuff for dinner. I was contemplating a salad. A serious salad, with some nice, strong tasting greens. None of your wimpy iceberg lettuce salads. I wanted a salad which let you know you were eating something.

So, I got some spinach. And then I was browsing along in the lettuce section, and there was this lettuce with kind of spiky, frilly leaves. I'm not really good with my lettuce names, but I would have described it as frisee, or perhaps escarole. Or maybe chicory. I dunno, I'm not good with my lettuce names. I just eat the stuff. It was underneath a sign that read "Endive - $1.99/lb".

I get up to the checkout stand, and the cashier picks this stuff up, peers at it, and asks me if I know what it is. I say no, but that it was under the sign that said Endive.

She asks two other cashiers, and one of them very confidently says, "Oh, that's Belgian endive."

Now, I'm pretty sure it's not Belgian endive. We've established that I'm not good with my lettuce names, but Belgian endive to me means the tight oblong-shaped bundle of pale white leaves that costs a king's ransom.

The cashier rings in Belgian endive, and it comes up $5.99/lb. "Woah," says the cashier. "That had better be some damn tasty lettuce." She clearly doesn't believe that anyone would pay 6 bucks a pound for lettuce. I've done sillier things than pay 6 bucks a pound for lettuce, but I really don't think it's Belgian endive. The other cashier, who insists its Belgian endive, goes to check.

She calls back, and says that because it is under the sign that says "Endive", they'll give it to me for the cheaper price. I pay, and then wander home, wondering rather guiltily if everyone's general state of produce ignorance has procured me fantastically expensive lettuce for a bargain price.

Thanks to the wonder of google, I can now confidently answer that I got exactly what I paid for. Behold the following yourDictonary entry, which explains that endive can refer to either Chicorium endiva, also known as frisee, or escarole, or Belgian endive. The picture shows that what I've got is clearly not the Belgian endive, which is indeed the little oblong bundle of fantastically expensive white leaves.

When I next shop for lettuce, perhaps I need to bring a field guide. Anyone know a good one?

Posted by spaceling at March 11, 2006 07:31 PM

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