I was a bit skeptical when our book club chose a book about kale for its December read. I am not fond of kale, probably dating back to the summer when our CSA in Watertown only had kale to distribute because of a horrible growing season. The book was available in the Kindle edition for a mere $1.99, so why not?
bonjour kale is a memoir, a collection of recipes, and a travelogue of Paris. Kristen Beddard, a native Pittsburgher, after college settles in New York City where she meets her husband, Phillip. Soon after they marry they move to Paris for his job. She is a "trailing spouse" and for the greater part of a year feels isolated and like a fish out of water. She describes their quest for an apartment, her many attempts to learn the language, and trying to make friends, as well as trying to fit into the culture.
But the most disconcerting matter of the move was the absence of kale in the Parisian markets. Kristen's background was rooted in healthy foods and eating. One of the mainstays of her diet was kale and it didn't exist in France. And so began the Kale Project. It was her attempt to introduce the vegetable into the cuisine of the French. One of the issues she discovered was lack of a French word for the greens. In her quest she really couldn't even ask for it and have the market proprietors understand her. As she eventually allies herself with some farmers, the memoir details her mission to bring kale from farm to table. She ends each chapter with a recipe or two, which I can say that I will not try. I admire her tenacity in this undertaking, but I still can't bring myself to cook this green.
This was an easy, fun, and interesting read. I enjoyed the smattering of French words, the descriptions of the markets, and the references to Pittsburgh. If anyone really likes kale, you would absolutely love this book.