The Saddest Leafy Green
September 30, 2019 3:44 PM   Subscribe

"My first inkling that kale was in trouble came from the New York magazine restaurant critic Adam Platt’s recent account of his attempt to love takeout-lunch salad, the purveyors of which dot seemingly every street corner in Manhattan...During Platt’s experiment, someone from Sweetgreen told him that kale sales had waned at its stores, even as its menu had expanded to include grain bowls and warm dishes."

Amanda Mull writes in The Atlantic that maybe America never really liked kale.
posted by noneuclidean (147 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don’t like kale. I love kale.
posted by defenestration at 3:47 PM on September 30, 2019 [36 favorites]


Kale is delicious. COOKED. It's a damn brassica and the VAST majority of brassica's need to be cooked! It's not a damn lettuce! I am going to run on a platform of COOK KALE 2020! /end rant.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:52 PM on September 30, 2019 [88 favorites]


Kale’s drop in Google Trends would be less ominous if the vegetable’s preparation were straightforward. Relatively few people search the internet for romaine lettuce, for example (unless they think it might kill them), even though romaine consumption has accelerated in the past two decades in the United States. But when it comes to cooking greens, the perennial holiday spikes suggest that people need to come back again and again to the giant recipe box of the internet, even after learning to prepare something once. Kale, in particular, has a natural taste and texture—bitter, tough, laborious to chew—that is off-putting to many. Including it in a dish takes work and know-how, even if you’re just making a salad. (Raw kale has to be … massaged? Finely chopped? Beaten into submission?)

LET ACID DO THE WORK.

Kale becomes delicious when chiffonaded and allowed to sit in a generous quantity of dressing that's a mixture of a large volume of lemon juice, honey, and olive oil at least overnight. Also, a mixture of green and black kale is optimal, IMO.

Comme ça, but more heavy-handed with the dressing. I like using dried currants as well, and toasted slivered almonds are a perfect stand-in for pine nuts if you are not Medici-level wealthy.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:53 PM on September 30, 2019 [33 favorites]


used it for garnish, not my call.
posted by clavdivs at 3:54 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


In the era of “clean eating” and internet wellness fads, kale comes approved by internet wellness gurus. It has been branded a “superfood,” and it’s talked about in juice shops with such hushed reverence that you’d think it held the key to eternal life. It’s low calorie and nutrient dense, with particularly robust supplies of vitamins A, C, and K, plus some fiber and protein. But avoiding kale won’t hurt you. Pretty much all dark, leafy greens have strong nutrient profiles, so there’s little reason to privilege one over all the others.

Ding ding ding.

Beware of quacks bearing "superfoods."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:56 PM on September 30, 2019 [21 favorites]


If I never taste kale again, it will be too soon.

Dandelion greens any day!
posted by sallybrown at 3:58 PM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


If I never taste kale again, it will be too soon.

Did you try putting cumin on it?
posted by thelonius at 4:01 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Lacinato kale cooks down really well in some chicken broth, sliced shallot and a LOT of red wine vinegar.

It's not very good raw, and I won't miss that trend.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:01 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


Kale and bacon are like, besties for life.
posted by lumpenprole at 4:04 PM on September 30, 2019 [11 favorites]


The spotlight moves on from yet another fad diet notion to the next one, film at 11.

As others have said, it has endured as a cooked vegetable for many years and I'm sure it will endure for many years to come aside from its day in the fickle sun of trendiness.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:04 PM on September 30, 2019 [11 favorites]


Slice it up and saute it in olive oil until it is nice and bright green. Optionally add minced garlic, if you like garlic. Yum.

Kale salad is OK if paired with some sweeter, richer ingredients, like fruit and cheese, to offset the bitterness.

For green smoothies, I stick with baby spinach. Kale is too strongly flavored.
posted by snowmentality at 4:07 PM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


The fetishisation of kale never ceased to confuse me. Especially raw. I think its just reaching a saturation point or maybe people are starting to recognise that green vegetables aren't magic.

Now at my market one thing I'm starting to notice is a lot of white people buying the greens of carrots, beets and radishes to, presumably, eat them. Now I grew eating these things and I can say honestly I'm not a fan (sorry Mémère, but if I wanted to eat dirt I'd just eat dirt). We'll see if that trend has any legs.

Now if you want a leafy green to be popular how about Sorrel? Watercress? Tatsoi?
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:11 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


From the Grub Street article:

"We’re a first-name company, Adam!”

Hisssssssss.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:11 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I grew up in a dairy-farming area where kale was grown as a winter fodder for cattle, and I still have some trouble getting my head around the idea of it's being a human food.
posted by Fuchsoid at 4:12 PM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


I love the bitterness of kale mixed with tart, savory, and sweet ingredients. Is there anything particularly bad about eating raw kale frequently? Am I shortchanging myself nutrient-wise by not cooking it? Because I often make an awesome salad similar to mandolin conspiracy's recipe, except usually with baby kale and not marinated overnight - but I'm definitely going to try doing that now.
posted by theory at 4:14 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


This makes me happy because I love kale, but it's been annoyingly expensive since it got trendy. No, hipsters! This is cheap, sturdy peasant food! Do not make it trendy! Go eat something expensive and annoying like truffles!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:15 PM on September 30, 2019 [16 favorites]


I could easily do without kale, but I do endorse the chiffonade-and-dress theory as well as "have you considered adding bacon?"

The green that consistently disappoints me is green (or purple) leaf lettuce. I mean, sure it's great fresh from the garden, but it's always wilted and/or slimy by the time it hits the grocers.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:16 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


This kale spaghetti (with whole-wheat pasta) is my current favorite cooked kale recipe, and my children just DEVOUR it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:18 PM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


The proliferation of kale has led to lacitano kale being more widely available in supermarkets, so that's good. When I say "I actively like kale" I'm really only talking about lacitano kale. But also, I love talking about food and sharing food ideas and experiences with people, and I have literally never encountered another non-internet person who legitimately likes kale for its flavor and not for its so-called benefits. I'm also the only one in my family, so who knows where I got it from, and I've liked it since way before it was cool because my parents tell me I used to eat the kale garnish at Sizzler's when I was four years old. It was only when I started looking up ways to eat lacitano kale specifically that I found a whole slew of internet folks appreciating the vegetable for its flavor and texture more than its nutrients, much like any other niche interest. I would never push kale on the majority of folks when I know everyone at the potluck would really rather just have some caesar salad.
posted by Mizu at 4:19 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


More for me, motherfuckers.

(Seriously, though, please cook it.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:20 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


Portuguese kale soup (any kind of kale is fine) is something I enjoy and make frequently.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:23 PM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


But now I want to try that kale spaghetti!
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:24 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


My wife has never understood my dislike of Sweetgreen and constantly implies that I just don’t like salads, which is not the case. Raw unmassaged kale is pretty much inedible and I don’t want to spend the time telling them to swap out greens on a salad I’m not really interested in eating anyway. There are plenty of chain salad places I actually don’t mind eating at, but Sweetgreen uses kale to such an extent that they offend me as a concept.

Kale in soup is awesome, massaged and left for acid to break down, also good. Raw kale is for horses and I wish people would realize that instead of acting like I’m the one with a problem when I don’t want to spend 5 minutes chewing every bite of food.

Yay kale, boo to the people who have no idea what to do with it and treat it like a salad green when it’s very very not.
posted by mikesch at 4:24 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


Kale happened because white folks were trying really hard to pretend they never heard of collard greens.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 4:29 PM on September 30, 2019 [50 favorites]


LET ACID DO THE WORK.

So apparently this may not be a thing? The Joy of Cooking replied in this Twitter thread from Helen Rosner that it's the oil that wilts kale.
posted by noneuclidean at 4:29 PM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


Kale is quite good in soup where it is simmered for a while and I've had some kale salads where not-too-tough kale was marinted in good dressing. The hype over kale may have faded, huh, go figure. What's the New Kale?
posted by theora55 at 4:29 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


A good thread from @NeolithicSheep on Twitter:
"Do... Do people not know at greens taste different at different points in their life cycles and after being frost nipped?"
Meanwhile: I roast kale with olive oil, salt and pepper. Crisp and delicious.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:29 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm OK with lacinato kale, but forget kale, what I really love is collards. Maybe it's because I simmer them in pork broth.
posted by acrasis at 4:31 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


Kale is even more delicious when battered and deep fried!
posted by monotreme at 4:33 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


Chard is worse.
posted by w0mbat at 4:35 PM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


> I grew up in a dairy-farming area where kale was grown as a winter fodder for cattle, and I still have some trouble getting my head around the idea of it's being a human food.

My grandparents fed it to their dairy herd in autumn and early winter, but the family ate it as well. My mom loves the fact that it's much easier to find in stores now than it used to be.
posted by theory at 4:38 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


Someone once described a kale salad as "like a scotch-brite scrubby pad for your insides" which I think is hilarious - but I actually really like kale; I saute it in olive oil with red pepper flakes & garlic and then stir the lot into polenta or white beans (or both at once).
posted by niicholas at 4:39 PM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


I actually prefer kale to spinach in smoothies, but that's because the vitamix complete rends the kale fibrous-ness. Also southern, also prefer collards for cooking, but massaged kale is great in salads, especially if it's got an acid-based dressing.
posted by SoundInhabitant at 4:41 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


I love kale. On the Pizza Hut buffet.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:41 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


LET ACID DO THE WORK.

Exactly. A jug or two of sulfuric acid is just the trick for a leaf of kale.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:45 PM on September 30, 2019 [27 favorites]


I love kale, but not raw. Sauteed or roasted for me please. Raw is just too...yeah, the description of it as a Scotch-Brite scrubby pad is not that far off.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:47 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


I was eating barbecue in Kansas City and needed a bit of a break from all the meat, so I ate some of the kale on my plate. A waitress with a worried expression came over to tell me that it was purely decorative; I wasn't supposed to eat it.
posted by wilberforce at 4:53 PM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


Raw kale is like licking an aardvark that's been rolling in fiberglass.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:53 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


Chard is worse.

FIGHT ME.

Kale happened because white folks were trying really hard to pretend they never heard of collard greens.

YES. SO at the garden center I work at we have a squintilion types of kale in 6-packs and like 1 collard type if we even get them- BUT the one collard flat we get sells out so quick while our kajillion Kale languish. I myself bought a tree collard and am reaping the rewards of delicious greens. Not that in a month I wont put in a kale plant or two myself, but collards are the superior green to be sure!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:56 PM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


There's also several different kinds of kale. Red Russian and lacinato are way less scrubby-brush-like. And baby kale of several varieties is perfectly edible as a salad green.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:58 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


sallybrown: "If I never taste kale again, it will be too soon."

Exactly this. Why eat kale when Brassica oleracea comes in many forms that actually taste good?

Broccoli, cauliflower, brussells sprouts, cabbage, all so much better than kale.
posted by crazy with stars at 5:00 PM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


Deep fried kale. Pry it from my burnt fingers.
posted by Splunge at 5:01 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


To be fair, sometimes one wants a scotch-brite scrubby pad for the insides.
posted by niicholas at 5:02 PM on September 30, 2019 [14 favorites]


noneuclidean: So apparently this may not be a thing? The Joy of Cooking replied in this Twitter thread from Helen Rosner that it's the oil that wilts kale.

Makes sense! It always sits in the dressing, so the oil's in the mix.

Ha ha. From that Joy of Cooking Twitter thread:

Whoa so it’s more like a confit than a pickle?

...to which they respond:

"Kale confit" sounds so confusing, morally ambiguous
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:03 PM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


I cook kale like collards (lots of vinegar and a ham hock) and they are fine. Not revelatory, but pretty good.

Raw kale needs to be massaged. Like, really rubbed to thinness with something like mashed avocado. Chopped avocado-massaged kale with sliced tomatoes and honey mustard dressing is delicious, far better than you'd think. But you really have to work every leaf bit by bit and I dont always have the mojo for that. But, like kneading bread, it can be quite cathartic.
posted by ananci at 5:04 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Pretty much all of the ways of making kale taste nice in this thread - frying, oil, bacon , etc - actually make almost any food delicious. Which, I suspect, might be why people want to eat less kale.
posted by The River Ivel at 5:16 PM on September 30, 2019 [13 favorites]


That's what I'm getting from this thread, too. "Smother kale with delicious flavours, and it will be delicious!"
posted by clawsoon at 5:21 PM on September 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


What doesn't kale you makes you stronger.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:23 PM on September 30, 2019 [24 favorites]


Gee, I like kale. Even raw, in salads. I don't like it as much as collard greens or mustard greens, but I like it. I wonder what's wrong with me.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:24 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


Nothing's wrong with you, that just means that you're super human. Go you!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:26 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


Now if you want a leafy green to be popular how about Sorrel? Watercress? Tatsoi?

"Yes, please," to all of those. (I've never had tatsoi, but it sounds intriguing.) I also vote for ong choy and purslane.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:28 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I don’t like kale.

actually, I'm indifferent. It exists on the same spectrum as something like light beer insofar as I never seek it out, but if it gets stuck in front of me ...
posted by philip-random at 5:32 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


I always feel sad eating lettuce, like why am I eating this when there are better greens around, and while I really like spinach salad it is always a fight to finish it before a couple of leaves start to go slimy and ruin the ones around them. So I usually end up getting either arugula or kale because they're better than lettuce and last longer in the fridge. I'm a lazy cook so if I'm eating a kale salad no massaging or other prep has been done beyond chopping the leaves down to size but I like it just fine.

I still can't get over that you're not supposed to eat raw sprouts, which are the best greens by far.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:32 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


AMERICA IS OFTEN WRONG
posted by not_on_display at 5:36 PM on September 30, 2019 [9 favorites]


LOVE IT OR LEAF IT
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:40 PM on September 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


KaleAnything becomes delicious when chiffonaded and allowed to sit in a generous quantity of dressing that's a mixture of a large volume of lemon juice, honey, and olive oil at least overnight.

ftfy
posted by Thorzdad at 5:55 PM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


"Raw kale needs to be massaged. Like, really rubbed to thinness with something like mashed avocado."

I don't understand. You mash an avocado and then massage it with your hands into kale leaves? Am I interpreting that correctly?
posted by Feminazgul at 5:56 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]



Kale happened because white folks were trying really hard to pretend they never heard of collard greens.


I--a mostly-white person--have tried on and off for years to duplicate the collard greens from the much-lamented Midtown Chicken Shack in Minneapolis. I still look occasionally online for "Sam Arnold, from St. Louis," which is all the information I have about the man that used to make them. I haven't found a recipe or anything else, but I can produce something pretty edible that at least reminds me of them. It is some work, what with sourcing smoked turkey necks for the broth and so forth, but so worth it. I would gleefully trade all the kale I might eat the rest of my life to have another bowl of the clear-quill Chicken Shack article.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 6:06 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I remember an article years ago, might have been linked here, where kale's popularity was the result of one PR fangirl who invented entire farmers associations for her cause.

Finely chopped kale stir-fried with sambal and garlic is delish.
posted by divabat at 6:07 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


I liked kale before it was cool and I'll keep liking it after it's out of style. I like it raw, cooked, dressed, plain. It is weird to me that people were so offended by kale's pop culture ascendancy.

I get it, it's cool to hate on things that are good for you. But some of us do in fact enjoy the taste and texture of kale on its own merits. I'm willing to believe most of you think bacon is genuinely delicious even if it isn't my thing. Leave me to my kale.
posted by potrzebie at 6:12 PM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


Kale is what I imagine it would be like if I I ate car tire shavings.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:20 PM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


Kale is delicious. COOKED.

Fried with soy sauce and garlic - yum!

not only does cooking help with the taste and digestion, but many vegetables are more nutritious after cooking. Spinach, for example, has more available iron after cooking.
posted by jb at 6:21 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


As noted by mandolin conspiracy, most dark leafy greens are real good for you. I like kale chips but find spinach to be superior; their nutrient profiles are very similar anyway. Same with collards and chard.

[I used to juice kale and chard - their bitter flavor when raw was made palatable with some apple and lime on top, usually with some carrot and beet too.]
posted by MillMan at 6:21 PM on September 30, 2019


I know a doctor who really, really loves kale. According to him, it's a superfood not just because of it's nutritional content, but because it's super easy to grow from seed, has a long growing season, is very adaptable to different climates, doesn't mind partial sun, etc. You can plant kale close together as well. It's a healthy food that's pretty accessible, and that's why he loves it. Other, more nutritious plants exist, but kale can be had cheaply and easily.

Anyway, I prefer the greens of my homeland (rau muống has my heart), but a massage kale salad with fruit and pepitas our homemade kale chips are both delicious and easy staples in my home.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:22 PM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


Slice it up and saute it in olive oil until it is nice and bright green. Optionally add minced garlic, if you like garlic. Yum.

Or, use it in the Irish dish colcannon - which is basically chopped up sauteed kale stirred into mashed potatoes, maybe with some bacon stirred in too, and then you dump the whole thing in a baking dish, sprinkle cheese on top and sling it under the broiler for a minute or so. ....Granted you may not taste the kale any more but who cares.

Chard is worse.

For chard, what you wanna do is chop it up, and then blanch it - stems for about 90 seconds, then add the leaves for another 30 seconds - and then cook some fresh tortellini while you sautee the blanched chard in a pan with a little garlic for a few minutes. Maybe add some sausage. Then toss all that with the tortellini and you have a one-pot dinner.

Why eat kale when Brassica oleracea comes in many forms that actually taste good?
Broccoli, cauliflower, brussells sprouts, cabbage, all so much better than kale.


Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage are all the exact very forms of brassica oleracea that I cannot eat without rather dramatic indigestion, alas. I have come to embrace the kale and collards.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:48 PM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


To be fair, sometimes one wants a scotch-brite scrubby pad for the insides.

And sometimes one wants a nice scotch for the insides.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:56 PM on September 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


Obligatory
posted by euphorb at 6:59 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Kale is the Ugly Christmas Sweater of foods.

ACT I:
“Hey, we have a glut of this hideous thing in our (grocery/thrift) store and no one wants to buy it.”

ACT II:
“Market it as already trendy at parties!”

ACT III:
“Wow, I can’t believe that actually worked!”
posted by armeowda at 7:05 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


I remember an article years ago, might have been linked here, where kale's popularity was the result of one PR fangirl who invented entire farmers associations for her cause.

I think there was an attempt at cardoons a few years ago. It showed up once on Chopped, I subsequently saw it once in my grocery store shortly after, and never again.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:12 PM on September 30, 2019


I love kale chips, but the ones that were available retail all had too much seasoning, usually spicy hot. Yuck. Just the right amount of salt and oil. If people had shown a little restraint, it would have taken off, and it would be more widely available now.
posted by amtho at 7:33 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Have you met my new superfood, kelp?
posted by mwhybark at 7:33 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


FYI beet greens are basically just tender Swiss Chard and if they aren't delicious you're doing it wrong.

And kale is like most of the other brassicas - not cooking it or overcooking it* both fail to do it justice.

*Except in soup, where many of them are more forgiving.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:34 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Kelp is also awesome.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:35 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


god kale is like eating broken glass and puking it up is like puking up broken glass that tastes like bloody puke. fuck kale. its death will bring me only pleasure.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:04 PM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


Of all the ways for humanity to circle the drain of extinction, shouting at one another about kale is...certainly one of them.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:14 PM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


Traditionally cooked in a pot with mashed potato & sausage...?
posted by ovvl at 8:14 PM on September 30, 2019


Yes, but have you tried bloody puke in a pot with mashed potatoes and sausage? *kisses fingers*
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:16 PM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


no i'm only shouting at kale. why would i care about humanity.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:17 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


Red Russian kale straight from the garden is extremely tasty. Even better when it has been frozen a few times. An asshole woodchuck broke into our garden this fall and went straight for the kale and ate basically all of it. So annoying not to get frost-sweetened kale this year.

Homo neandertalis, if you don’t have perennial tree collards, you should head over to south Berkeley and/or north Oakland to get some from someone’s garden. You can just take some cuttings and jam them in the ground, and hey presto, collards forever!
posted by rockindata at 8:18 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


My tree collard is a perennial! He’s about 2 and a half feet tall at the moment and is living in a. Ten gallon fabric pot propped up on a milk crate and I love him! We do sell them occasionally at work and they sell real fast, so I thought I’d give it a try and so far I am not disappointed!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:26 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


Kale can't hear you. It's not like shouting at corn.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:29 PM on September 30, 2019 [19 favorites]


Potatoes see what you're doing.
posted by amanda at 8:35 PM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


Long before kale was cool, i grew some lacinato kale plants in my garden that just...didn’t stop growing. They lived for four or five years, got as tall as me, and churned out leaves and delicious flowers basically year round. I learned to include kale in lots and lots of recipes in self defense and supplied all my friends with as much of it as they wanted. I like it raw, wilted, turned into kale chips, sautéed, roasted, marinated, juiced, braised, chopped up on top of pizza, in a box, with a fox, in the rain, on a train, etc. My insights are that it’s absolutely fantastic added to spicy chili (or in any other spicy tomato-based sauce), and the flowers will bring pollinators to the garden before anything else blooms and are so tasty I eat them by the handful and use the buds like broccoli. I’ll still love kale (this kind anyway) when its star fades.
posted by centrifugal at 8:43 PM on September 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


Kale itself is fine, what frustrates me about it is how for a while the Vegan Queers would just have raw kale or kale chips and think that's it for "good" vegan food. Come on, there are so many options for tasty vegan food, put in an effort.
posted by divabat at 8:48 PM on September 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


The think I like best about kale is it's chewy resilience, you just have to have it work for you rather than against you. In one pot meals that you freeze, spinach is slimy and discolored when reanimated, but kale comes back unzombified and tasty. Something like this lentil sausage kale soup for instance.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:15 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


All I want in life--okay, maybe not all, but higher on the priority list than it should be--is for my grocery store to get over this kale thing and start actually stocking baby arugula, which is basically good on or in everything I've ever had it with. I wind up getting it from Whole Foods, which whatever I think about Amazon is also just very inconvenient to where I live. But kale, kale I could get in volume. Sigh.
posted by Sequence at 10:16 PM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


I’ve had some really unappealing kale salads, more roughage than anything.

But those don’t compare to my unpleasant chard memories I have from years past. That has to be the worst vegetable of all time.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:42 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Chard makes me gag. I know people like it, so I try to give it a chance every so often. It rewards me by making me gag every time. Least favorite food.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:52 PM on September 30, 2019


After reading this whole thread, it has confirmed that I don't really know how to distinguish kale from other greens in practice.

Who even notices the flavour? They go in food, they're a bit of texture, they're fine. I buy the kale, I put it in salad, I fry it, it's fine. Slightly less annoying than baby spinach, significantly less convenient than frozen spinach.

My only issue is that sometimes it's more expensive because of the "health" cachet, and cafes think putting kale on the burger is both noticeable and worth charging more for. There are certainly foods I'm passionate about, but not kale.

My kale recipe:
Add finely chopped greens to any recipe at ratio of about 1:9 kale: everything else. Pay no further attention till washing up, because the little flakes stick well.
posted by Acid Communist at 11:12 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


I know a doctor who really, really loves kale. According to him, it's a superfood not just because of it's nutritional content, but because it's super easy to grow from seed, has a long growing season, is very adaptable to different climates, doesn't mind partial sun, etc.

In other words, its famine food.

You know, when a plague kills your cattle, or an army passing through steals all your pigs, you can eat the stuff you were growing as forage. And then by the time things get better, people are probably utterly sick of it, and the stuff gets a stigma.

But most Westerners don't own pigs or cattle, so no matter their wealth, they always act like its the middle of a famine. "Oh! We need something new to eat! Oh! Try this, is it edible? Oh! Its not so bad if you cook it properly!"

I wonder what's next: stinging nettles? Water lilies? Kreb? The Westerners are always famine-hungry, so something will show up.
posted by happyroach at 11:42 PM on September 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


The way kale became a trendy food in the US and now is in the process of being left behind for the next big thing makes me appreciate what Chinese or Vietnamese or Mexican or ... people go through seeing their food adapted, done 'wrong' and rejected for not being authentic enough by white America.

Kale is a winter vegetable. It's not for salads, it's for cooking and putting into a potato mash. If it's bitter, You're Doing It Wrong.

Do it the Dutch way, get a huge pot of potatoes, a huge pot of kale, cook them thoroughly, mash them together with a bit of butter to smooth it all down, add bacon bits if so inclined, season properly, get a good gravy going, add a rookworst and youy have a hearty peasant meal that can keep you going on a dreary winter day.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:47 PM on September 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


I wonder what's next: stinging nettles?

Nettle cheese is a thing yo.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:48 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


After my heart surgery, my cardiologist told me I could eat as much or as little dark leafy greens as I wanted. But it had to be the same amount every day.

I chose one big serving a day. You have to understand though, at the time I was laying in a hospital bed talking to my doctor, so it didn't seem right to pick zero. Besides, I kinda liked dark leafy greens like kale and spinach.

And I still like them, mostly. But this rigid consistency is trying. There have been days that I ate dinner at a fancy restaurant, dessert, drinks, etc. And at the end of the night had to go home and eat half a bunch of kale before going to bed.

Kale and I have a complex relationship, is what I'm saying. You're a good veggie, kale. But some days...man.
posted by ryanrs at 11:58 PM on September 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


A high school girlfriend cooked me kale and collard greens in oil with salt and pepper once. Three decades later I still make it when I'm in the mood for something cheap and tasty, when they kids aren't around (they prefer boiled cabbage for some reason.) Long live cooked dark leafy greens. Especially with bacon.
posted by davejay at 12:06 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


What West Indian people do to sorrell is a gift. Also really really into Swiss Chard and Watercress. Fucking hate Kale.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:45 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


i also like nettles.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:46 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


niicholas: "I saute it in olive oil with red pepper flakes & garlic and then stir the lot into polenta or white beans"

You could prepare rusty bolts that way and I'd eat them.
posted by chavenet at 2:07 AM on October 1, 2019 [7 favorites]


Kale is like eating a leather salad.

To be fair, sometimes one wants a scotch-brite scrubby pad for the insides.

And sometimes one wants a nice scotch for the insides.


The scotch sterilizes the wounds.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:07 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


Kale? Salad? Stamppot Boerenkool with smoked sausage & cracklings is the only way to go!

End of thread
posted by ouke at 4:22 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


I like raw kale in salads. The bitterness and crunch are tasty to me. I like it cooked, too. I don't think I'd mind seeing less of it in everything, though.
posted by codacorolla at 4:58 AM on October 1, 2019


I like kale. I'm done with it as a trend. Get those prices back down.

Next in annoying food trends that need to die - dried cranberries, especially in salads.
posted by bunderful at 5:19 AM on October 1, 2019


So we're done gentrifying collard greens, then?

More for me.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 5:25 AM on October 1, 2019


It's not that I hate kale, but it would be nice if it went out of fashion. Often, when you are at a café or cafeteria for lunch, all your choices include raw scratchy kale or slimy quinoa. Both foods can be made well and taste good, it's the fashion aspect that gets them made bad and taste awful. Also, will pesto never go out of fashion?? Kill the stuff now!
posted by mumimor at 5:55 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


I wonder what's next: stinging nettles?

Both nettle soup and kale (either in mashed potatoes or creamed) are a thing (if very old fashioned) in rural Denmark. Both are delicious.
posted by Dysk at 5:56 AM on October 1, 2019


I like kale and I’m not sure when life promised it’s as nice as butter lettuce in season. :) I’m all in favour of prices dropping.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:14 AM on October 1, 2019


Next in annoying food trends that need to die - dried cranberries, especially in salads.

My family is a supplier for Ocean Spray, PISTOLS AT DAWN
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:16 AM on October 1, 2019 [6 favorites]


My sister in law makes a delicious kale salad with dried cranberries.
posted by mumimor at 6:27 AM on October 1, 2019


Often, when you are at a café or cafeteria for lunch, all your choices include raw scratchy kale or slimy quinoa.

Or when you wander in somewhere and pick up a to-go premade sandwich and it’s got a giant piece of raw kale in the middle of it. Why??? The one that makes me saddest is kale Caesar salads. Just big pieces of raw kale ruining a Caesar salad :-(
posted by sallybrown at 6:28 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: calls something that I would traditionally eat "bloody puke" and everyone joins in yuks. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.
posted by ovvl at 6:34 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


In Rome, you can get simple sandwiches called tramezzini. For years I avoided them; white bread, mayonnaise and a few other ingredients, why would anyone eat that? Then one day I was really hungry and had one, I think it was tuna and egg maybe with a slice of tomato. No spices apart from salt and pepper, no kale or even lettuce, no pesto, just freshly made bread and good quality filling. Such a revelation -- it completely changed my understanding of food. But obviously, you can't take a lot of money for something like that, or claim it is a superfood.
posted by mumimor at 6:36 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


I actually like raw kale in salads. I will eat a 100% kale salad, but usually I just chop up some kale and put it in a mix with lettuce, mixed greens, spinach, etc.

(Plus if you make a kale caesar salad, you get to call it "KALE, CAESAR!" until your kids get annoyed.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:47 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


So years ago my mother made this dish that was supposed to be curly kale in scrambled eggs. Conceptually fine maybe, but what emerged looked like and had the texture of something dredged from the bottom of a pond. It was soft and goopy and slightly fibrous and... so horrible. Ever since then everyone in my family regards kale with suspicion.

I am one of those people who does not enjoy bitterness at all, but I am intrigued by the potato suggestions and will give that a go.
posted by stillnocturnal at 6:52 AM on October 1, 2019


I was really excited one day when I saw dried cranberries with "less sugar!" on the packaging, and immediately bought them. Then I discovered that they'd filled them with artificial sweetener instead of just making less-sugary dried cranberries, which were of course what I'd been hoping to find. I love dried cranberries. Stop making them so sweet I might as well be putting red gummy bears in a salad, cranberry purveyors.
posted by asperity at 7:39 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Was it this past summer? I can't remember, but it was impossible to get a Caesar salad with romaine lettuce because of some outbreak of something or other. So they were using kale as a substitute. The future, my friends.
posted by nanook at 7:40 AM on October 1, 2019


To be fair, sometimes one wants a scotch-brite scrubby pad for the insides.

While reading Ranger Rick magazine with my kids I learned that chimpanzees in the wild get intestinal worms and have learned to treat them by taking a big rough leaf, rolling it up, and swallowing it without chewing. It is a literal worm-removing scrubby pad for the insides.

Just saying.
posted by medusa at 7:59 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


Amanda Mull is really keeping up the Atlantic tradition of Bad Opinions. See also her articles: Talk to People on the Telephone, Always Have Three Beverages, There Are Two Types of Airport People, I Broke Breakfast.
posted by dame at 8:02 AM on October 1, 2019


I like to make a kale caesar but I fry my kale first or it is indeed too scratchy on the insides.

I hate these kind of arguments (this trend is good! no it's bad!!) but I am sticking around this thread for It's Raining Florence Henderson's jokes.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:13 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


So years ago my mother made this dish that was supposed to be curly kale in scrambled eggs.

H-how do you mess this up? I put some kind of dark leafy green in my scrambled eggs and potato hash every weekend morning. (Haters to the left etc) Often kale, sometimes chard, sometimes arugula. You just cut it up and put it in towards the end?
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:23 AM on October 1, 2019


X is really good, you just have to fry it in oil and butter, serve it with bacon, mix it in a soup, mash it with buttery potatoes, or literally dissolve it in oil and vinegar.

I think that statement is true for all values of X where X is even technically edible.
posted by FakeFreyja at 8:29 AM on October 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


H-how do you mess this up?

I think the two fatal errors were - she didn't really cut it up and put in loads, so it was more sort of eggy kale than bits of kale in scrambled egg, and she put it in at the beginning so it was way overcooked and, combined with the egg, slimy and mushy. And the eggs were actually the perfect consistency for scrambled eggs, soft and wobbly, which is usually nice but sort of reminiscent of snot/ frogspawn once you're already thinking pondweed.

She's usually a good cook, I swear, I don't know how this one particular thing went so horribly wrong but boy it did.
posted by stillnocturnal at 9:05 AM on October 1, 2019


And kale is like most of the other brassicas

I disagree. Kale doesn't roast well, which is the key to turning everything from sprouts to cauliflower sweet and delicious. It doesn't ferment or pickle well, remaining fibrous, meaning that unlike cabbage, it's not a fantastic slaw or kraut.

It can be deepfried, to make chips, which finally get it to brown and sweeten, and it can be boiled to formlesness, which makes it OK for colcannon or champ when mixed with mash and lots of butter, but beyond that, there are few things it can do that are not done better by spinach or cabbage.
posted by bonehead at 11:06 AM on October 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


> it can be boiled to formlesness, which makes it OK for colcannon or champ when mixed with mash and lots of butter,

What, no! BRAISING. You use that texture. You braise it until it's tender and a little silky but absolutely not formless mush, ew. But if it's young, it sautes nicely as well.

/team lacinato kale 4ever
posted by desuetude at 11:21 AM on October 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


You may all have my share of the delicious, delicious, *GAG* kale.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:34 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


I still can't get over that you're not supposed to eat raw sprouts, which are the best greens by far.

Really? I do fairly often. Just chiffonaded and dressed, like Brussels sprouts, grape, and apple salad (I leave out the maple syrup and sub almonds for the walnuts). Or do you mean they're suddenly now bad for you?
posted by lazuli at 1:14 PM on October 1, 2019


"Or do you mean they're suddenly now bad for you?"

E. coli, listeria, and salmonella; the warm wet conditions necessary for sprouting can create a bacteria bonanza. They warn pregnant women off them, and recommend you not give them to young children. (Also immunocompromised people and elderly people should avoid.) Scroll down to the green box here.

I'll eat them occasionally (now that I'm done being pregnant forever) if it's from a place I trust, but I won't buy them at the supermarket or at a random deli.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:23 PM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Last couple of comments seem to be talking past each other. It's sprouted seeds ("bean sprouts") you should be cautious about. Brussels sprouts are perfectly safe raw and, as noted, quite delicious in a slaw.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:48 PM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yes, sorry for not being clearer, I meant things like alfalfa or radish sprouts. Not Brussels sprouts, which are nice too.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:27 PM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


If these super food greens are all foods eaten traditionally in times of famine or food scarcity, then how likely is it that the next fad food will be pokeweed (or polk... salad)? I mean, it has to be boiled multiple times to get the poison out, but that could be hyped as getting it ready to absorb toxins to replace the ones that have been cooked out of it, like a dietary sponge of woo.
posted by MarchHare at 7:02 PM on October 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


So we're done gentrifying collard greens, then?

Momma Doll: "You wanna stay for supper? We got kale."

Uncle Tyrone: "He likes collard greens! Not kale."

Momma Doll: "He like KALE. He thinks they collard greens."

-Bulworth

posted by snuffleupagus at 7:54 PM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


After my heart surgery, my cardiologist told me I could eat as much or as little dark leafy greens as I wanted. But it had to be the same amount every day.

I chose one big serving a day. You have to understand though, at the time I was laying in a hospital bed talking to my doctor, so it didn't seem right to pick zero. Besides, I kinda liked dark leafy greens like kale and spinach.


ryanrs, why the same amount every day?
posted by yohko at 11:16 PM on October 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Jordan Weissmann responds at Slate: Actually, Kale Is Good and Lots of People Still Like It.
posted by Lexica at 9:21 AM on October 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


They used to plant kale as an ornamental at the local mall. Someone knocked over a whole head of it. I took it home and fried it in butter. That was GOOD!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:23 AM on October 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I have eaten stinging nettles. I LOVE stinging nettles in soup! I used to buy a bag of them for a couple KM from the country ladies who hung around Trg Oslobodjenje. They always said to wear gloves. Stinging nettles taste like spinach made of velvet. It is counter - intuitive that stinging nettles are good for your stomach. I ate them at least weekly in season and loved them. People are them to survive the siege in Sarajevo. Same goes for a lot of unconventional greens. I tried many of them.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:46 AM on October 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


They used to plant kale as an ornamental at the local mall. Someone knocked over a whole head of it. I took it home and fried it in butter. That was GOOD!

I like the idea of local, mall-grown, wild-foraged kale.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:47 AM on October 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I was dead broke at the time. I considered that kale a blessing.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:48 AM on October 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


Stinging nettles are a thing I have wanted to try for at least a decade but am unsure how to procure.

I have been stung by stinging nettles and it was highly unpleasant, so I'm wary. But I really want to sautee them in butter and maybe add some fresh lemon, zest or juice or both. I have never eaten them but I have a whole recipe planned in my head.
posted by lazuli at 4:49 PM on October 5, 2019


Redzepi routinely cooks with nettles at Noma.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:58 PM on October 5, 2019


For some reason it occurred to me this morning to compare this thread to one of our apple threads. Nobody says, "Red Delicious apples are delicious! You just have to fry them in butter, add some bacon, sprinkle on some lemon juice, and then sautee them with red wine and cinnamon." People just say, "Ehn, Red Delicious?" and then move on to apples that are actually delicious.
posted by clawsoon at 9:35 AM on October 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


"Red Delicious apples are delicious! You just have to fry them in butter, add some bacon, sprinkle on some lemon juice, and then sautee them with red wine and cinnamon."
You are obviously right, but that sounds delicious
posted by mumimor at 10:08 AM on October 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Thank you, clawsoon, I look forward to trying that recipe with a good apple.
posted by Emmy Rae at 10:09 AM on October 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Be warned that I know little about cooking and am merely parroting the way that people who do know about cooking talk. If it actually works out it'll be like a neural net trained on pop songs coming up with the next big Top 40 hit.
posted by clawsoon at 10:28 AM on October 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


> For some reason it occurred to me this morning to compare this thread to one of our apple threads. Nobody says, "Red Delicious apples are delicious! You just have to fry them in butter, add some bacon, sprinkle on some lemon juice, and then sautee them with red wine and cinnamon." People just say, "Ehn, Red Delicious?" and then move on to apples that are actually delicious.

Eh, by that logic, we would ignore squashes or zucchini because watermelon and cucumbers exist in the same family.
posted by desuetude at 8:33 AM on October 15, 2019


Eh, by that logic, we would ignore squashes or zucchini because watermelon and cucumbers exist in the same family.

Yes, agreed.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:11 PM on October 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


There absolutely are apples that you want to keep for cooking, that aren't fantastic eaten out of hand. They are however glorious cooked to apple butter or baked in a pie. Spys, Gravensteins, Spartans, to name a few, are all at their best baked. Crabs are almost inedible raw, but make by far the best jellies.

There are even apples that are best used for cider and pressed.

The so-called "Delicious" families are nowhere among those numbers. I'm not even sure pigs like 'em.
posted by bonehead at 12:38 PM on October 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Red Delicious keep well and ship well. That's why they are popular with mass producers.

The Empire is a Red Delicious - Macintosh cross - tastes like a Mac, keeps like a (terrible) Red Delicious. So it's popular in chain stores, too.
posted by jb at 9:22 PM on October 15, 2019


As has been pointed out in many an apple thread, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious are in fact excellent apples; there's a reason that they are two of a half-dozen or so apples that nearly every modern apple has in their lineage. They just aren't excellent apples after being fully subjected to the modern food chain. Gala and Fuji are going down much the same path.
posted by tavella at 11:29 AM on October 16, 2019


I got a Fuji apple at the supermarket the other day. The difference between it and the one I'd gotten at the farmers' market a few days earlier was pronounced.
posted by Lexica at 3:21 PM on October 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


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