French People Don’t Eat Kale | What the Kale?


Last year I was at an event having dinner, sitting at a table with French chef Serge Falcoz-Vigne (who runs the restaurant Saint-Jacques in Raleigh, NC). Our main course was a French-inspired cassoulet made with local ingredients, including kale. According to Serge, you know the chef is American when you are served this vegetable. He said, “Kale is food for rabbits. A French chef would have served the rabbit meat instead of tasteless kale.”

From a nutrition perspective, rabbits who eat kale would be very healthy to eat! Rabbit meat would provide the same nutrition benefits (and even more). 

Here is the French truth: kale is not a delicious vegetable.

Unless kale is cooked with plenty of garlic to mask the bitterness, in my opinion it’s difficult to make it delectable.

I found this quote from Sanaë Lemoine, a French writer living in Brooklyn in a New York Times article:

“Why would the French ever care about this large, coarse-leaved cabbage? They don’t need magical vegetables or superfoods. They already have a tradition of eating balanced meals. In a strange way, kale is superfluous.”

The French diet is a balanced one, and people enjoy many different kinds of foods. For French people, kale is a reminder of the dietary deprivation of World War II. Meat was rare back then, and people were forced to eat unpleasant, bitter greens.

Kale was reintroduced in France by a vegan American woman just in the past few years. You can now (sometimes) find it in markets among other vegetables.

In France, kale is not considered a “superfood” as it is in the states.

High 50 Health published an article that reports kale is not necessarily a superfood for everyone. This leafy green vegetable can be very hard to digest for some people. However, if you can’t digest it you can’t properly absorb its nutrients. Although kale can be good for you, so can many other vegetables.

The bottom line: if you don’t like it, don’t eat it!

No matter what you read about kale’s health benefits, don’t force it into your diet if you don’t find it delicious. The  same nutrients found in kale (vitamins A, C, and K, copper, manganese, and magnesium) by eating any vegetables from the Brassica family. You might enjoy broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or cabbage instead!  

Or, you can always eat the rabbit. 🙂

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