Informant info: (Left to Right) Sadhana Puri, age 20, Jessica Link, age 20, Alex Ledoux, age 21 all from New Orleans, LA. Collected May 15, 2016 via iPhone.
Verbal Lore: Slang/ Material Lore: Drink
Language: English, French
Country of Origin: The Caribbean, France
Social / Cultural Context: This is a caffeinated root which is ground up and added to coffee for a stronger flavor and increase the amount of caffeine in the beverage. It is one of the many French influences in New Orleans.
Jessoca: I was about to say Coffee and chicory. Is a thing.
Sadhana: What exactly is chicory.
Alex: Is it a root?
Sadhana: Yeah it’s like a root.
Jessica: Yeah it’s like a root. The myth is that the reason we started using chicory is because during the civil war during the union blockade when the union soldiers came and blocked New Orleans off so we couldn’t trade or whatever anymore. People could grow chicory in new Orleans even though we couldn’t really grow coffee beans, I guess. So people started using chicory because it has caffeine and it kinda tastes like coffee so they use that to make coffee. But in reality what it was, was like French people even in the 1700s and 1800s were also using chicory, like I don’t know from- it grew in the Caribbean and stuff so they brought it back to France which brought it to New Orleans. New Orleans people were already drinking chicory with their coffee before the civil war. But during the civil war when it was harder to get coffee they drank even more chicory with their coffee. I think that’s it, I remember reading that somewhere. Cause that’s like a misconception. But the point is we still make, like some places still put chicory in their coffee, like Café Dumont which is where everyone goes to get beignets. And it’s super famous.
Sadhana: Alex you have chicory blocks in your room right.
Jessica: Well it’s coffee and chicory. You can’t get just chicory by itself.
Alex: Well it’s coffee. So like the coffee from Café- Well I think maybe you can (get chicory itself), I don’t think you could just make coffee with that.
Jessica: I feel it would taste gross.
Alex: Yeah that’d be really gross.
Sadhana: It’s pretty bitter.
Jessica: It’s extremely bold.
Alex: It’s super strong.
Sadhana: it’s an acquired taste.
Alex: Like for me it’s really funny because I can drink like black regular coffee, because I am so used to drinking CDM which is Café Dumont coffee with Chicory ad um it’s super strong.
Sadhana: How much chicory do they put in it, do you think? Like probably just.
Sadhana: I like it.
Alex: I don’t know it’s just ground up, it looks like regular coffee grinds I put in my thing.
Katelyn: So you drink pure chicory?
Sadhana: Sorry I was confusing.
Alex: No, no it has coffee and chicory the chicory just makes it a stronger coffee.
Sadhana: Yeah it give s it a slightly bitter.
Jessica: Yeah like a super strong flavor.
Alex: It’s like dark dark, like probably the darkest roast coffee you could have.
Sadhana: It’s not real coffee though.
Aex: The chicory isn’t.
Sadhana: Oh no, but the taste is of coffee”
Collector’s comments: This word again shows off New Orleans French roots while also giving the chance to tell a myth about the origins of Chicory. The word can be considered slang because of it’s specific use in New Orleans and this one item that is not used much elsewhere. It is also most likely that the French pronunciation of the word is different which adds to the slang aspects of the word.
Tags/Keywords: Chicory, caffeine, food, material lore, verbal lore, café du monde, New Orleans.