The Bitter-Sweet.

Cooking has much to teach us about transformation. About the relativity of things and processes. The chemistry of it all; a little heat, a little salt, a little time.

Under the steady hand of an educated (or simply patient) cook, the toughest cuts become tender and the bitter endive becomes a sweet, sumptuous treat.

The endive is rarely seen on supermarket shelves. It requires a deft hand – it’s crisp white or fuschia leaves are sharp and stinging with bitterness if slightly too old, or slightly too dry. A little oil and lemon brings them to life in a peppery, dark green salad. Otherwise, split in halves or quarters and chargrilled on cast iron until caramelised on top and still sharp on the edges; they match in a balance of contrasts with pork or crayfish.

But split in half, bathed in a little butter and stock, really, just a splash, then baked slowly in a covered dish on low heat for an hour.

Sweetness. It’s there, hiding under the bitter introduction, just beyond it’s grasp. The natural sugars have to fight it out against the other compounds, but chemistry will win.

So there’s something we know about life too. Even the most bitter roots can become tender and sweet. Call it forgiveness, or the aftermath of peace. After the long, warm comforting embrace – the sweetness will emerge.

What do you think?

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