While we live in a state whose economy, and football team, is firmly wedged in a large brick of cheese, our family’s ability to participate in the idyllic, pastoral, inebriated Wisconsin existence is hampered by a cold and simple fact – plants die whenever I or my husband express an interest in them. Or, for that matter, even look at them too long. Luckily, however, we have discovered a way to enjoy the agrarian lifestyle via contractual proxy, which for the less rural among you means we purchase a share in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. What happens then is a farmer, on a weekly basis, delivers a magical and seemingly bottomless box of produce for us to puzzle over. The contents vary throughout the season and are, as might be expected, unpredictable, bringing simultaneous excitement and dread in anticipation of each delivery. It harkens back to Christmas as a youth where you wonder if the brightly colored box from Aunt Mildred contains a shiny new racecar or a pair of socks with reindeer on them.
Yet no animal, vegetable, or mineral is quite so dreaded as that which is received in bulk quantities in 90% of the boxes throughout the growing season – kale (perhaps better known as the Devil’s Vegetable – or the reindeer sock of the CSA). I am told – by our farmer and by some friends who unwittingly planted a few seeds in a garden patch – that it is prolific. Even during this year’s unprecedented drought conditions, it thrived. In the face of Mother Nature’s literal burning hatred for it, and perhaps for all life on this earth, it laughed, spat in her eye, and filed to run as a Democrat in Missouri. This proves that you can do nothing to kill it – even with fire.
Though it is but a green leaf, kale has the texture of shoe leather. One variety we receive is, in all seriousness, called dinosaur kale – presumably because it is an accurate representation of what dinosaur would taste like. It’s also tougher than Kevlar. In light of current harsh economic realities, NASA might consider it as a cheap replacement for constructing space shuttles – I hear the Chinese are already looking into it. For anyone still stupid enough to try and eat it, I do have some good news for you. Cooking does change its texture – from that of shoe leather to warm shoe leather.
There is nothing more endearing than a vegetable that accomplishes all of the following:
- Tastes noxious (somewhere on the spectrum between “microwaved sauerkraut” and “thirty-year-old Limburger”).
- Makes one’s entire house smell noxious while it is cooking (somewhere on the spectrum between “man’s sweaty gym sock” and “dead skunk”).
- Makes one personally smell noxious after eating it (somewhere on the spectrum between “dear god, open a window!” and “explosive hazard”).
Whereas oatmeal may be likened to a broom for the intestines, kale may be likened to applying a Shop Vac directly to one’s colon. So why consume such a demonic weed at all? Because it is healthy! Densely packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and the power to shoot rainbows from one’s wazoo! Wait – that wasn’t a rainbow. Rainbows don’t smell like my toddler after her 9:30 interpretive grunting session.
Our CSA farmer – the fellow who diligently (and maliciously) plants, harvests, and distributes this crop throughout the region each year – stated the following in a recent newsletter, “If you are a kale hater and would rather eat kitty litter than kale, speak up now.” So, dear farmer, this is my plea: more broccoli, more cauliflower, more beets if you absolutely must. But no more kale. I’d suggest burning the field and sowing salt into the land, but I doubt you’ll succeed where Mother Nature failed.
And it might just make it angry.
You wouldn’t like it when it’s angry.