Monday, September 23, 2013


It's 2013. Back in 2009, I was evidently complaining that one was required to enjoy kale. Specifically, what I objected to was that it's impossible to mention kale without someone immediately chiming in with the recipe that will produce a conversion in even the most skeptical. And now there's an American woman making it her (unpaid!) mission to get the French to eat the stuff. Because the stuff is absolutely everywhere, and kind of bland, I've learned to like it as much as any other green, enough so that if it's the freshest-looking vegetable available, I'll buy it. (Considers kale currently in the fridge, and how it would balance out cocktail-party hors d'oeuvres dinner. But it would need to be washed, prepared. Which would require getting off the couch.) But mustering enthusiasm is beyond me. It looks nice at farmers' markets, and poking out of tote bags brought virtuously to the same. But otherwise...

It's just such a strange dynamic, this kale-promotion. Not the kale fad - a fad I can wrap my head around. It's the overt peer-pressure element. I can understand wanting your own child to learn to at least tolerate vegetables you yourself like to prepare. But why all the spontaneous PR for random adults one doesn't even know to like a vegetable whose success you yourself don't have any financial stake in? What's it to you - a general 'you' - if someone you're not even dining with prefers collard greens or chard, or spinach or arugula,* or broccoli, or...? Maybe some really out-there argument could be made for it being in society's interest for most everyone to eat at least some green vegetables. But why must it be kale? Why does a vegetable have cheerleaders?

*Team Arugula all the way. Very 1990s, I realize, but then again, so am I. Best consumed with baked goat cheese and while wearing that newly-revived vamp-red lipstick.


Doctor Cleveland said...

Arugula, of course. Organic arugula. Before everything was local and seasonal, it was organic.

I have kale recipes and I cook them, but they're all about how I wrestled that vegetable into uneasy submission. Maybe the evangelism is about the *difficulty.*

Phoebe said...

You're right that arugula was the 'organic' era. The previous was 'gourmet.' I should note that I'm not concerned with whether or not arugula is organic, so I'm not a 1990s purist in this regard.

As for kale being difficult, agreed that it's not just something to snack on plain and raw, but I don't see how it's any more so than other green vegetables. It needs to be washed, but isn't particularly sandy. (I'm looking at you, arugula.) And then (at least with some varieties) you can either shred it and it's a salad, or (with all edible varieties) saute it in oil, with garlic, sausage, whatever else. (Look, here I am explaining what to do with kale, in a comment to a post asking why people do this!)

Point being, I don't think it's any more requiring of flavor-disguising than any similar vegetable. It seems more likely to be about the idea of a superfood, or that even if kale sold in the Northeast in winter is actually brought in from California, it in principle *can* be local/seasonal.

Anonymous said...

Good question. My friends and I were kalevangelists in the mid-nineties in New England because it grew in such profusion and lasted so much later into the season than the other greens that we had to mobilize the masses to consume it. However, I don't think that's behind the present kalevangelism.

Sigivald said...

I don't comprehend kale evangelism.

But I think it's tasty enough sauteed with some pepper flakes.

(Interchangeably with chard, too.)

WPB said...

Perhaps the purpose of Kalevangelism is really about being able to harp on one's own love for kale -- a sign that one is healthy and sophisticated.

fourtinefork said...

Even wannabe vampires need kale:

(Check out the 3pm juice.)

Phoebe said...


That sounds about right.


That has to be a joke!

fourtinefork said...

That juice is supposedly real. I'm not really sure who the demographic is, but someone thought this was a good marketing idea. And combine that with the recent Tracy Anderson deal, and one would be in totally awesome shape, I assume.

I am totally watching that show, though. (I thoroughly enjoy the Vampire Diaries. And my thrill today was seeing Jonathon-- the short one who was a geek who gets stabbed-- from Buffy walking down the street today.