I was at Whole Foods one busy weekend afternoon. My nearly overflowing basket was full of crackers, eggs, milk, and different kinds of produce. I was standing in the bulk isle, stocking up on cornmeal, when an elderly woman walked by and remarked on the dinosaur kale that was spilling over the side of the basket.
"Do you like kale?" she asked.
"I love kale!" I said enthusiastically.
She went on to say that people no longer appreciate vegetables like kale, turnips, or other veggies eaten in eastern European countries. And, you know, she's right. Many people today know the basics — potatoes, carrots, broccoli, lettuce — but they don't feel the need to expand their horizons beyond that. (The same is true with fruit, of course. I recently watched a program where people were asked to identify the different fruits arranged on a table, and they had a hard time recognizing kumquats, pomegranates, and papayas. Again, if it's not a banana, apple, or orange, people don't seem to be bothered.)
I suppose I'm spoiled because I live in California and have access to so many kinds of produce. But there really are so many vegetables available in many areas of the country that simply don't get the recognition they deserve: Beets. Swiss chard. Leeks. And kale.
Poor kale. It's so nutritious and is very tasty when cooked properly. I like to sauté it until tender and crisp around the edges, then serve it with brown rice with peanut sauce on top.