Monday, August 31, 2015

Foraging for a cup of coffee

Scattered around our fields are tall stalks of beautiful blue flowers. I only see them on my early morning walks, for, by noon, they have closed up. Each blossom only blooms for one day and then it is done. The next morning, new blossoms appear – and then disappear. I never paid too much attention to them until one of our visitors told me my blue "cornflowers" were in fact, chicory.

I perked up at learning this as I wondered if this was the same chicory that can be made into coffee, the kind of coffee served at the famous Café du Monde in New Orleans and at the Fish House/Café Beignet in Louisville's Germantown. We used to go to Café Beignet on Saturday mornings with the kids after shopping at the Bardstown Road Famers' Market. We'd order a dozen sugar-coated beignets and down them with a cup or two of strong chicory coffee.

Sure enough, it is from the roots of these blue flowers that chicory coffee is made. We had to give it a try. We dug up a root, dried it for a couple of days outside, then roasted it in the oven for two hours. The whole house smelled lovely: malty, chocolately, carmelly.

Last night, I grated the roasted root and then added the gratings to our morning coffee brew.

It was a good cup of coffee. It did seem to soften the bitter edge of the our dark roasted coffee. I think next time I will add a higher ratio of chicory: maybe 1/3 chicory to 2/3 coffee.

History has it that Louisianans began to add chicory root to their coffee when Union naval blockades during the Civil war cut off the port of New Orleans, which was the second largest importer of coffee (after New York City).  They never looked back.

Unfortunately,  chicory coffee doesn't contain caffeine. In fact, it is known to make one a bit sleepy. But I like the fact that even if I run out of a bag of Heine Brothers' coffee beans, I don't have to forgo my morning cup of Joe. It is such a tiny thing, but it makes me feel self-reliant, like a true homesteader. I can forage for a cup of coffee.

1 comment:

  1. well now you have me inspired to go hunting for chicory. thanks, again for the endless inspiration!