Meet the 'Joan of Arc of Kale'


How long has it been since you listened to someone wax rapturous about kale against your will? 14 minutes? Okay, good, you’re overdue for your next ode to the vegetable equivalent of a jaunty fashion hat — so, here is the best Kale Trend Piece of All Time (sorry, “What Can’t Kale Do?”, but we’re all impressed by your effort).

For those of you not in-the-know, kale is a clump of sour lettuce that is highly recommended as rabbit food. According to the New York Times, kale is “so ubiquitous in Brooklyn that it could be named the borough’s official vegetable,” joining the borough’s official flag (a romper that Lena Dunham wore one time) and the borough bird (a pigeon choking on a cigarette) as emblems of eternal coolness. However, Paris has not received the memo — yet. Thankfully, a “crusader for crucifers” named Kristen Beddard has emerged from the leafy miasma of Williamsburg to spread a message of acceptance.

The Times notes that the French have five different words for kale, but not in an “Eskimos have a hundred words for snow” way; more in a “no one can be bothered to pick a word for this very unimportant vegetable” way. Kale’s technical name in French — chou frisé non-pommé — translates as “curly headless cabbage” (incidentally, that is also what the French call you behind your back). After moving to Paris in 2011, Beddard would go to restaurants and say, “Yes, very good menu, can I please have some curly headless cabbage, though?” And the French would not understand at all.

So she started a website titled The Kale Project and began “passionately pitching kale to chefs and vegetable farmers.” Her goal is to make kale as popular as lettuce. If no one makes as Kale Crusader movie within the next 5 years, featuring a leafy green makeover montage and a flamboyant French chef with an angry moustache, then I no longer want to be a part of this world.

So far, Beddard has managed to get kale on the menu of several trendy bistros and cafes. She’s also convinced at least one farmer to grow it, and she provided the green to three-star Michelin chef Alain Passard, who made a six-course tasting menu out of it. Accordingly, the Times has dubbed Beddard “the Joan of Arc of kale,” because, as every history buff knows, Joan of Arc was on a God-given mission to encourage gourmet chefs to try and spice things up with their ravioli fillings.

Now the world waits with bated breath for the Moses of quinoa.

“Trendy Green Mystifies France. It’s a Job for the Kale Crusader!” [NYT]
Image via ocophoto/Shutterstock.

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