Hello, kale...if that is your real name.
Hey everybody! Let’s talk about kale. Why? Because I’ve been sick in bed for three days doped up on Ny-Quil, so kale it is!
Kale: it’s not just the name of that hippie kid you went to college with. Kale is that green salad-looking stuff that is so frilly you need to take a moment to figure out where to put your teeth. Kale is known for it’s earthy taste, and bitterness that can be reduced through cooking. Translation? It tastes like dirt and anger, but you can burn some of the mean out of it with fire.
I’ve tried kale before, and man, does it ever taste healthy. Like, “I’m not sure I should be eating this but I’m starving in the woods” kind of healthy. I had never even heard of kale till a few years ago, which got me curious about the origins of kale and how people started eating it.
Well, get a load of this. Turns out kale was “a significant crop during ancient Roman times and a popular vegetable eaten by peasants in the Middle Ages.” Popular among peasants in the Middle Ages? The same people who drank from the same rivers they pooped in? Excellent. I’m all in.
Some varieties of kale were cultivated as recently as the 1980′s, a time when people were making all kinds of well thought out, coke-fueled decisions. Two of those decisions were to eat dinosaur kale (it’s looks like something you find at the bottom of the ocean, having survived without light and air for millions of years) and ornamental kale, which is called ornamental because it used to be part of centerpieces and bouquets and stuff until someone decided to see what it tasted like. I can only assume this was to stop the kale from screaming at them and ordering them to kill their mom.
Now, kale is a “superfood,” and is sold at Whole Foods everywhere. Its appeal has not made it across the oceans, however. A woman recently profiled in the New York Times is being called “the kale crusader” and is trying to bring kale to Paris. Apparently, it is not going well. Based on the article, here is what I think the kale crusader’s conversations are like when she talks to french chefs about kale.
Kale Crusader: “Here, cook with this. It’s called kale.”
French Chef: “Keh-ool? Non. We call this chou frisé non-pommé, or, ‘zee curly headless cabbage zat you feed to your rabbit.’”
KC: “It’s actually quite popular in America. We call it a ‘superfood’ and eat it in everything.”
FC: “Ah, oui. So you put maybe some butter, or perhaps some kind of a young cheese on it?”
KC: “Oh, no. not at all! I find it’s best when you just steam it.”
FC: “Ah yes, like when zee French were starving during World War II, and we had to boil zee cabbage in order to survive. Like zat?”
KC: “Well, sort of…”
FC: (laughing) “Please, take your keh-ool with you and go back to America. Eat it with your ‘cheeseburgers’ and your ‘Captain Crunch.’”
Oh boy. I’m going back to bed now.