SHRINK RAP: Kale nation
I am a serious foodie so you might imagine how thrilled I was to move to the Berkshires and find creative, sophisticated, fun foods, unusual combinations. The area is becoming a New England culinary destination. But I have one huge problem. Kale!
Where in the world was kale when I was growing up? I don’t think I even heard of it until a few years ago. Now one cannot escape it – in salads, of course, but in beverages, desserts, fried, baked. My daughter called me from one of New York City’s best places to buy produce. She was confounded by the 34 different varieties of kale. I was clueless. She now makes something called rubbed kale. I have never rubbed my vegetables. Sounds way too sexual for something that is green and leafy.
The fact is kale is over 2,000 years old. It’s great to know that there is a scientific battle over who first cultivated kale. The New York Times stated that the ancient Greeks boiled some leafy green stuff and ate it as a cure for drunkenness. The Europeans make claim that kale was consumed in volume until the Middle Ages when other vegetables became cultivated . . . and probably tasted better. But kale survived being taken over by its cousin, the mighty cabbage, due to its ability to withstand frost. For you botanically-minded folks, kale in the wild is the Brassica oleracea variety acephala. According to my online source (Vectis Road Allotments), that means “cabbage without a head.” Drop that one at the next dinner party – which is sure to have kale in it somewhere.
Kale was recently proclaimed “Food of the Week” by Whole Foods markets (I guess now Whole Amazon Food Markets). It provides the most nutritional value for the least number of calories. To be really healthy their “Veggie Advisor” recommends eating about 10 cups per week of kale or some similar cruciferous vegetable, whatever that is. Ten cups of Haagen Daz ice cream, maybe. But 10 cups of kale – no way!
Kale is also a clothing item. T-shirt seller Bo Muller-Brown has been cashing in on kale for the past 12 years with his “Eat More Kale” T-shirts. For the physically-fit-minded, there is one that says “You’re Kale-ing It!” It is probably fair to say that a few years ago, 95 percent of us would have looked at that and said “huh?” Frankly, I’d rather eat the T-shirt.
Clearly, I am not a kale fan. I cannot sing its praises and will go out of my way not to order a kale-infused item at a restaurant. No kale chips taking the place of the good old potato chip. No kale smoothies. No kale in my pasta sauce. No kale, period.
But in all my ranting I felt compelled to try a recipe from Scoop Adventures (only a true ice cream fan would indulge that kind of reading material) for Blueberry Kale Ice Cream. It took about a day of hard labor to make and then harden but, WOW! Amazing! Kale Rocks!
OK, not really, but it was not that bad and if I got some nutrient value out of the dish as well as a workout from just making the stuff, I’ll salute this version of kale. And to my darling daughter, I didn’t even have to rub it.
Susan Winston is a television producer turned psychotherapist with a private practice in Great Barrington.