Monday, March 14, 2011

Craving for Kale

It came over me all of a sudden, one sunny March afternoon. I really wanted to have some kale. I found a recipe on the Epicurious website for Kale and White Bean Soup. A few minutes later I was at the local grocery store loading my cart.

When I tried to weigh my bag of kale at the self-serve checkout I attracted the attention of the supervisor, a tall, middle-aged black woman with a long pony tail. She came over to investigate.

“How many bunches you got in there?” she asked, looking at me askance.

“Two,” I replied. “Two and a half, in fact. I thought they sold it by weight.”

She pushed a few buttons, clearing the screen, then pushed a few more, then entered the code for kale, which she knew by heart. When the quantity field came up she pushed “3.”

“Wait a second,” I said. “Let’s take a look.” She pulled out one, then two. There were some loose fronds in there, too. That was the “half” I was talking about. But I had to admit, when you grouped them together, they also made up a pretty robust bunch.

“You’re getting a lot of kale for 95 cents,” she said. “What are you going to do with it?”

“Eat it. I’m making a soup.” That sounded a little lame, so I added, “They say it’s good for you.”

“Tell me about it,” she replied, cracking a smile for the first time “We’ve been eating it for centuries.”

Back home I got the onions sautéing and put on a rarely-played Johnny Cash CD. As usual, I didn’t make it past the second number. Better suited to the occasion was “Jazz Jumps In: Swing This,” an anthology of classics from the early Big Band era like “East St. Louis Troodle-oo” and “Doggin’ Around,” performed by the likes of Jimmie Lunceford, Lionel Hampton, and the famous Andy Kirk and His Twelve Clouds of Joy (never heard of him).

I dropped in the beans and browned the slices of kielbasa in a cast iron pan. As I chopped up the kale, so crinkling and firm, I said to myself, “I could see a brontosaurus eating this.”

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