Endive

Now, here is a noble salad plant of which even the very name is hardly known by the greater number of our people. There are practically two classes of endive, the broad-leaved or Batavian variety, and the curly-leaved endive. Both sorts, however, must be well blanched if perfection is required. It is true that the curly-leaved endive is at times to be obtained here, but it is extensively cultivated in England, as it is very crisp and tender, while it also possesses a piquancy which is greatly appreciated. Nevertheless, the plain or Batavian kind (the escarole of the French) has also its admirers, particularly for salad purposes. Now, it is to be carefully noted that the accompaniments, or "fourniture," of these two varieties of endive are vastly different. With the Batavian it usually is formed of chervil, tarragon, and that delicate alliaceous salad herb, chives. On the other hand, a chapon is generally used with the curly endive; it consists of a crust of bread over which a clove of garlic has been rubbed. This is thrown into the bowl and tossed about during the process of mixing the salad, and gives to it a delightful effect. In addition to its use as a salad, the curly-leaved endive makes a particularly good garnish for grills, such as chops, steaks, etc.; and, by the way, Sir Henry Thompson, the eminent surgeon, remarks that the sauce par excellence for grills is mushroom ketchup. But before leaving the endive it is as well to refer to a blood relation, namely, the wild endive or chicory. "When its large, fleshy roots are dried in a kiln, roasted and ground, they become familiarly known by their admixture with coffee. This plant, the succory of former days, is greatly esteemed by the French, by whom it is known as barbe de capucin. To meet the great demand for it large quantities are sold in the neighbourhood of Paris in order to produce this salading. Its young leaves are used for this purpose, but they must be thoroughly blanched so as to take away every particle of bitterness.

Corn Salad

This hardy annual salad plant is believed to derive its name from the fact that it grows spontaneously in the grain-fields. It is also known as lamb's lettuce, and in America as fetticus. Here is an example of a once well-known plant dropping out of use, for one of the earliest-known salads was this same corn salad, on which was laid a red herring. But now-a-days it is called mache in Covent Garden Market, where it has been sent over from France. This lamb's lettuce is greatly appreciated on the Continent, and makes one of the best of salads, especially when mixed with celery. As it can be easily grown in all the coastal districts and in the cooler parts of Australia, it is certainly a matter for regret that we are not favoured with it.

In addition to the preceding, namely, the cos lettuce, the two varieties of endive, the chicory, and the corn salad, or lamb's lettuce, there are one or two other salad plants which require a brief notice. Now, as far as celery and radishes are concerned, we may be said to be fairly well off; but the same is not the case with mustard, with garden cress, or even with watercress. The latter is to be obtained from John Chinaman, it is true; but it is curious that in Australia we see none of the watercress vendors so familiar in the streets of the old country. Yet there is really a good living to be made out of it, and its use would prove of benefit to hundreds of families, as with a little salt it makes an exquisite sandwich between two thin pieces of bread-and-butter. A wise physician, Dr. T. K. Chambers, uttered a great truth when he remarked that the pale faces and bad teeth which characterised many of the inhabitants of cities were due to their inability to obtain a proper supply of fresh green vegetables, and that thus the watercress-seller was one of the saviours of her country. So great is the demand for watercress in New York when it first comes in that the prices range from 2s. to 4s. for a basket holding only three quarts. At this rate an acre of watercress under cultivation would represent almost a fortune. Of course all watercress should be thoroughly washed and then dried in a towel, like the lettuce for the salad, before it is eaten. Lastly, it must never be used from a source where any sewage contamination is suspected.

Now, although these different forms of salad plants are not cultivated to any considerable extent, yet when we come to inquire into the salad herbs, we find that they are not grown at all, and indeed they are practically unknown. They constitute, however, the crowning grace of a proper salad, and confer upon it a delicacy which is unrivalled, and thus it is that any traveller will tell you that a salad in France tastes so infinitely better than one elsewhere. Now, these salad herbs are readily grown, and do not require any care in their cultivation, so that there is no opportunity for excuse on that score. In order, however, to prevent this paper becoming too diffuse, I must confine my remarks to those salad herbs which it is almost impossible to do without - that is, if we wish to have any salads worth speaking of. It will be convenient, for this purpose, to refer to the word "ravigote"; and by this term is meant a collection of four herbs, namely - burnet, chervil, chives, and tarragon. As has been already mentioned, each of these herbs, chopped up very finely, is usually placed in a little heap by itself on the one plate, and from these four heaps is selected whatever is required for the salad. This invariably forms the garniture of any lettuce salad, whether cabbage or cos, and also of the Batavian endive, though, as we have already seen, the curly endive is best suited with the chapon - i.e., the crust of bread rubbed over with a garlic clove. The very derivation of the word "ravigote," from the French verb ravigoter, to cheer or strengthen, shows that certain exhilarating virtues are ascribed to these herbs.