Coffee lover that I am, I have to secretly admit I’ve been enjoying this dark liquid lately. That’s right, roasted chicory is carving a new spot in my heart. It has similar components to a coffee description–acidity, body, aroma, bitterness, sweetness, aftertaste–and a deep rich satisfaction that is almost meaty.
I know there are at least a few individuals who don’t love coffee: my honey pie, his brother, my cousin Barb, and maybe three or four more people who don’t care about finding something that resembles coffee. And I would never suggest that anything could take the place of coffee (people get pretty touchy about this topic). But if you are looking for a dark beverage that you could drink in the afternoons with no caffeine and bonus of having numerous health benefits…keep reading.
Chicorium Intybus, Sativum
Chicory was cultivated in Egypt for medicinal purposes and it’s likely the Anglo word ‘chicory’ or the French ‘chicoree’ comes from its Egyptian name ‘Ctchorium’. Egyptians consumed it in large quantity to purify the liver and blood.
Another amazing plant, chicory increases the flow of bile which aids in digestion and breaks down fats to help with general gallbladder and liver health. It contains antioxidants and anti-fungal properties, and also has a high concentration of ‘inulin’—a soluble fiber that assists the intestinal flora. Inulin is a non-digestible fiber so it provides the benefits of fiber but does not raise blood sugar levels.
Aren’t you ready for a cup now?
(…but not if you’re pregnant, breast-feeding, or allergic to ragweed, and if you have gallstones consult your physician first…)
Over the centuries roasted chicory has been consumed as a beverage in times of war or blockades when coffee trade was unable to happen. Most regions switched back to coffee once the supplies were available, but New Orleans never gave up the tradition of mixing chicory and coffee—probably because chicory had been a popular beverage in France since the 19th century. Orleans Coffee gives a little overview.
Speaking of New Orleans, the culture that still drinks this beverage has extra meaning today as we say farewell to a dear friend Mary Kay from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, not far from the Crescent City. Artist, mama, teacher, radical, writer, friend, she loved people and nature, bright colors and black, sparkly and muted, parties and quiet, plus jambalaya, bacon, great cheese, beet lemonade, and she especially loved watching the snow fall in the middle of the night when she spent winter time here in the northland. An amazing woman she was, we salute her practice of loving life, all life.
This week’s quote is one she gave to me last year, I still have the paper with her handwriting:
“Each difficult moment has the potential to open my eyes and open my heart.”
~Mayla Kabat Zinn
A Moon Door for you, Mary Kay. Bon voyage.
Prepare a tea ball or strainer with:
1 1/2 teaspoons Roasted Chicory Root, ground
Pour boiling water over the chicory and steep for a few minutes.
Drink straight up, or add:
Honey, Sugar or Maple Syrup