Chou frisé!!

by jemma margaret

The experience of Americans in Paris has changed a lot since good old Hemingway and Fitzgerald. While Americans might have once symbolized jazz and cocktails, now they speak with a wistful fondness for that good old home country kale.

Yes it’s unglamorous and yes it’s a European species, but look for kale in Paris and you’re sure to find other Americans looking too.

There is even a movement with the sole intent to bring kale to Paris. I wish them luck, and I imagine they’re succeeding since with no effort on my part I found kale at the market today.

First, a word on French outdoor markets. I am tempted for convenience sake to call them farmer’s markets, but they are not. There might be farmers there, or at least farms representatives, which are identified by there slightly less flashy produce and a sign designating “producteur”.

One such producteur had a lovely large stack of plain old kale for the buying. Not only was I delighted to have what might be my favorite dinner (and all you kale salad, kale pesto, kale chips people might as well be truthful and admit that fried in olive oil with mushrooms, chile flakes and garlic is the ultimate kale experience (salt should go without saying, but just in case, I’m saying it)), but I also was able to participate in perhaps my longest French conversation with a stranger.

I will transcribe it pretty much as it happened, on my end and translate what I think she was saying.

Comment dit-on cette chose?

Chou frisé, she said.

C’est par la piéce?

Yes, and she picked me out a nice one.

C’est très grande!

You know this vegetable? she asked.

Oui, je suis americaine et il est très populaire (I meant célèbre, but both words work in this case).

How do you cook it? she asked.

I am not quite sure what I said here, something about huile d’olive, aïl, and poivre fort. May or may not have said sauté.

Then she asked me something about timing or chopping it up. When I answered ten minutes I knew that I had misunderstood the question because then she said something about adding the oil afterward. I am considering writing up a pictorial recipe card and bringing it next week.

Merci, madame! I said, with genuine enthusiasm and joyously carried away my green bouquet to the nearest park where I photographed it as you see above.