Baptism by Fire: Supreme Test of a Mayan Skywalker

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AuthorHouse, Nov 1, 2002 - Fiction - 352 pages
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In 1987, I received a phone call from a Belgian gentleman. He was desperately searching for a source of fresh endive.
My venture with endive production, then located in Dixon, California, was still in its early stage. It was sheltered in a very primitive wooden barn where the endive was grown, packaged and shipped. Nevertheless, I gave my address to the hungry Belgian. A few days later, a large, middle-aged man walked into my office, smiling warmly and visibly happy about his discovery. He spoke to me with a passion about endive.

That started my friendship with Albert Dupont, which was followed with almost monthly visits to replenish his supply of fresh endive. During the ensuing years, we spoke often about the preparation of endive and, eventually, it occurred to me that he must have a few interesting family recipes. Still, when he announced one day, his intention to write an endive cookbook, I smiled politely. 'A book? Maybe a few pages, but not a book!' The prospect seemed exaggerated, frankly improbable, and I was more than skeptical -- I wondered what was going wrong with my Belgian friend.

On the contrary, the completed work is a testimony to culinary well-being. Albert's exhaustive collection of fine recipes has captured my imagination today, as much as the production of endive did twenty years ago. We always considered endive to be a highly versatile vegetable. Here, Albert proves its adaptability beyond expectation with more than 100 sensational endive recipes -- everything but a dessert!

This curious and unique, yet often misunderstood, vegetable has a rich culinary history spanning 150 years in Western Europe. This book gives Americans and Europeans, alike, the opportunity to enjoy endive in many exciting new ways.

The back of our delivery trucks carry a message extolling Americans to 'Eat More Endive...10,000,000 Belgians Can't Be Wrong!'

Albert Dupont is one Belgian-American who has taken our suggestion to heart. Like me, enjoy reading and making these recipes. Like me, enjoy this culinary adventure.

Richard Collins

THE HISTORY OF ENDIVE
Jeff Lambrecht was a farmer in Kortenberg, a small town half way between Brussels and Leuven, Belgium, in the period around 1850. He had placed some chicory roots in a cellar for future transformation into a coffee substitute -- a common practice back then (note that this is the same product found today in New Orleans-style coffee -- roasted and ground chicory root!) Whether he forgot them in the cellar, hid them there to avoid a purported chicory root tax, or became ill for a while is not well documented. However, upon reentering the cellar in the spring, he discovered that the chicory roots had sprouted in that dark, damp environment producing a small, blanched shoot. Curious, he nibbled some leaves and found them to be tender, moist and crunchy, albeit slightly bitter. It was, he quickly decided, a leafy vegetable! Without realizing it, he had started a new farming industry.

The drawback of the shoot's bitterness was surely outweighed, he reasoned, by the fact that it was fresh at a time of year when very few fresh foodstuffs were available. Keep in mind that this was a century before year-round availability of fresh produce. The Belgian farmer had stumbled upon something especially significant: a source for a fresh vegetable in the dead of winter!

Soon, local farmers learned of his discovery, and infused with enthusiasm, it wasn't long before they began aggressively pursuing the commercial development of this new vegetable. An endive farming industry was created around Brussels, eventually gaining a widespread presence in western Belgium, Holland and Northern France. Today, endive is grown to some extent on almost every continent, and worldwide production exceeds 500,000 tons annually.

It isn't clear if Jeff Lambrecht (sources do not always agree about the farmer's name, but this is the one most sources do) ever persona

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