Between 1845 and 1870 the chicory root became an important crop in the rural areas North West of Brussels. Chicory roots served as a cheap alternative to coffee.  There were about 1,200,000 mē of farmland used for the chirory root crop around that time.

Due to the high volume, all the chicory could not be roasted in time.  The farmers piled their chicory roots up in big piles.  During a mild winter, the piled up chicory roots would produce white sprouts, which had a strong resemblance to endive. This is why the French still call this vegetable "endives de Bruxelles" and the British and Americans call it "Belgian Endive".  It was soon discovered that the development of the sprouts were enhanced by placing the chicory roots closely together and by covering them with a layer of earth.

In 1912, "Witloof" or Belgian Endive became the main crop for farmers in and around Kampenhout, and provided a great source of income for hundreds of families.  The soil in Kampenhout is ideal for growing Belgian Endive, it is the perfect mix of clay, sand and a lot of chalk.

Endive de Bruxelles...Belgian Endive...Witloof

Before World War II, Belgian Endive was packed in wicker baskets.  As Belgium was under German occupation, the switch was made to wooden crates and cardboard boxes. By the 1970's, Kampenhout was producing 12 million kg of "Witloof" annually.  About 1/5 of all farmland in Kampenhout was dedicated to Witloof.  
"Witloof met hesp en kaas in de oven" or Witloof prepared with ham and cheese gratin, served with mashed potatoes... This is the most popular witloof dish in Flanders.


What does all of this have to do with our house ?  You guessed it : our farm used to be a witloof farm.