Kale Salad as Allegory: Is it Really the Kale That We Love/Hate?

Disclaimer #1: I distrust trends. Therefore by the time I decide to jump on a bandwagon, I usually have to run to catch up.

Disclaimer #2: I LIKE kale. I neither hate it nor love it. Therefore, as an American, these days I am suspect.

Three things happened on our recent Road Trip IV which got me thinking about kale. First, a friend in Arizona served us a delicious kale salad, with pecorino (that’s a Parmesan-like cheese; I had to ask) and walnuts. Then, two days later, a friend in Dallas served us a different, delicious kale salad. (Remind me to tell a funny story about that.) Third, Arizona Friend emailed me her recipe, which turned out to be this delightful post from The Smitten Kitchen.

In re-reading that recipe, prior to adapting it (I never EVER follow recipes exactly, except in baking), I was struck by author Deb Perleman‘s comments about having dissed kale: “As someone who has said things like ‘the world would be a better place if we could all stop pretending that kale tastes good’…”  Deb  goes on to describe how irresistibly delicious this salad was, and breaks it down into easy steps. (And I can attest–it IS delicious. Although a bit fussy for my lazy cook-self.)

(Original image courtesy Smittenkitchen.com)

(Original image courtesy Smittenkitchen.com)

You have noticed, haven’t you, how omnipresent kale suddenly is? And how strong everyone’s opinions are about it? When the Obamas included kale salad on their Thanksgiving table back in 2012, oh my! To hear the political pushback, you’d have thought they’d done something drastic like try to ban giant soft drinks in NYC. (If Mayor Bloomberg were a Democrat, would the fuss have been even bigger? What do you think?)

Kale salad?? For ThanksGIVING? Can you BE more un-American? What’s next, banishing the marshmallows from the yam casserole?

You can see where I’m going with this, right? It’s not kale. It’s not even Just a Vegetable. It’s a judgement. Depending on which side you’re on, eating kale salad is either Standing Up For A Healthier Planet or Ramming A PC Lifestyle Down Our Throats.

So I’m a little hesitant. I like kale. I loved this salad. But do I really want to invite someone to try the recipe? Will they think I’m a Kale Evangelist? Can’t we all just munch in peace for a bit?

(original image courtesy smittenkitchen.com)

(original image courtesy smittenkitchen.com)

Oh, but I promised you a funny story. So, that friend in Dallas? She has a teenage daughter, who happened to breeze into the room just as my friend was breaking up a bar of dark chocolate (Vitamin C!) for us to devour snack on.

“Honey, want some chocolate?” my friend asked.

“No, I’m gonna eat some more of that kale salad,” said her daughter, heading for the fridge.

I told her she had raised an unnatural child. Whom I wanted to adopt.

OK, so where are you on kale? Or on the whole Food Evangelism idea? Am I being too tetchy here? Or do you just have a good recipe to share?


5 thoughts on “Kale Salad as Allegory: Is it Really the Kale That We Love/Hate?

  1. I’m with you. I like kale.

    I first had it at our homeschool co-op. Several members were vegetarian, even Vegan, and someone made kale chips. Tasty, crunchy, and natural tasting (I tend to prefer natural tastes).

    Early last spring, I visited my wonderful Jewish-mama friend, Sylvia, whose kitchen is a wonderland. I write at her table while she cooks (she likes feeding me, it’s her way of being a patron of the arts). She fed me a lovely Portuguese soup that featured kale, and it was just delicious!

    Earlier this week, my husband (Chef Bluebeard, whose culinary talents provide our livelihood) made us both delicious salads with kale in them. I hadn’t ever thought of eating it raw; it added a surprising and pleasant slightly bitter crunch to the salad.

    As for that “unnatural” child, she doesn’t seem unnatural to me, not at all. Kids who can choose what and when to eat often do things like that! I used to be a Food Nazi Mom, until we stared unschooling when the kids were 7 and 4. It’s not uncommon for someone here to leave a cookie half-eaten, and go for the broccoli or carrots. It tends to be the kids whose parents put conditions on food who have the kids who are mad for the sweet stuff whenever it’s offered.

    When I eat kale, or anything else, I’m eating it because I want to. It might be because it tastes good, or because I feel good after eating it, or because I think it sounds interesting. I do tend to love all fresh vegetables and most fruits (excepting melons, melon-cousins, and blueberries,unless they’re mixed with other fruits or extremely fresh). I tend also to like simple, whole grains – but that’s a matter of taste, rather than any kind of statement, beyond, “I eat what I like, without apology.”

    I think I just wrote another blog post! Copy, paste, save!

    Thanks, Gretchen!

  2. This post made me laugh. I like kale, too. I grow it in my garden and love that it’s one of the few hardy plants I can dig out of the snow in January and eat fresh. I like it in soups the best. With spicy sausage, tomatoes, summer squash, and those little squiggly pasta things in the freezer section that I can never remember the name of. 🙂

  3. Pingback: The Next Right Thing | Wing's World

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