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To set the record straight, while I am American and kale is the “it” vegetable in the States right now, it is not an American vegetable. In fact, it was first cultivated over 2000 years ago in the Mediterranean/Asia Minor region. As part of the cabbage family, Brassica oleracea acephala, which is the Latin name, is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. It’s resistance to colder weather and frost makes it a crop for cultivation and eating almost year-round. In fact, frost only sweetens the taste. This resilience is also why it was one of the vegetables that made its way to the New World in the 1600’s, as it was a pretty much guaranteed crop for new settlers. During the World War I and World
War II, the English were encouraged to grow kale as part of their Victory Gardens. Scottish kitchen gardens are referred to as “kale yards,” since kale is always present. The Portuguese use it as the main ingredient in a traditional soup and black kale or cavolo nero is a prominent green in Italian cuisine. Within American culture, kale is not considered part of a special dish. In fact, up until five or so years ago, most Americans that even knew about kale were those devoted to eating a diet largely consisting of vegetables. It was more possible to find kale at a co-op than at an average grocery store. And then slowly a transformation happened as restaurants began to experiment and use kale as a salad ingredient.
The Fall/Autumn issue of sisterMAG