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?