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Jan 4, 2010 08:54 AM

Cavolo nero/Tuscan kale/dinosaur kale, or indeed any kale

Having my usual mid-winter craving for dark greens, and my local market in the 12th (aligre) has nothing but chard. Any sightings?


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  1. Your local market has no kale? No spinach? And only chards, which are not in season? I would move.

    3 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      OK, there's spinach. But definitely no kale. As I've never seen any in my casual browsings of other Paris markets, and the Aligre is pretty extensive, I've always assumed it's uncommon. Where are you finding it?

      1. re: shiraschnitzer

        Any market, really. My neighborhood one is on bd Blanqui on tue, fri and sun. But there's no reason for you to go that far -- unless you're interested in a wonderful charcutier and a great bakery. They have chou frisé, chou vert pointu, chou blanc at many stands. Not to mention pak-choi which has become pretty common. I don't know your neighborhood well but Delucacheesemonger does so let's chant his name together.

        1. re: shiraschnitzer

          You have to tell me which market does not have kale these days. Have seen plenty on rue Lepic, Martyrs, Friday Anvers, plus of course all the Asian markets.

      2. I am almost positive I bought kale there on a recent Saturday. If I'm wrong, it must have been at the Bastille market on a Sunday. In any case, all the neighborhood vegentable vendors have it as well. I'm about as confused by this question as I would be if you were looking for sightings of pumpkin ... how have you missed it?

        1 Reply
        1. re: tmso

          It's a fair question, though I remember having the same issue the last 2 winters. And it seems to be kale-specific; I've never had trouble finding anything else at Aligre. I'll do another reccy of the immediate quartier b/f Thursday, then head to Bastille. Any other suggestions welcome--thanks!

        2. The closest I've seen to dinosaur kale is the chou vert or chou frise...the outer, dark green leaves are similar. But how about escarole? That I haven't found.

          39 Replies
          1. re: larsondarfur

            in French, escarolle, or scarolle, is a bitter, chicory-like salad. It too is not hard to find.

            1. re: souphie

              Did you find the kale? I also have a desperate craving for it and would love to know where to go!

              1. re: lloreen

                No luck., sorry. I'm beginning to wonder if I need glasses, or if posters are operating with different definitions of kale. I've been to the Aligre mutiple times, Richard Lenoir 2x, probably half a dozen supermarkets and multiple veg stands around the city. I have found every conceivable type of cabbage, chard, spinach, escarole, even once fleurs broccolis (but with larger leaves and minus the flowery bits found on what I know as broccoli rabe), but absolutely no kale.

                  1. re: souphie

                    I have no idea about its scientific classification, but I'd call it a green, more like collards/mustard greens in taste and texture. As for cabbage, I've found red, white, Savoy/chou frisee at my market. All lovely but not kale.

                    1. re: shiraschnitzer

                      It is a cabbage, although it doesn't have the tight head. The Kale I buy usually has curly leaves.

                      It doesn't surprise me it is tricky to get, I always remember finding it very difficult to track down butternut pumpkin, the French pumpkins were far too watery in comparison. We bought whenever we saw it, usually in "bio" stores or markets.

                      Maybe Kale is the same, have you been to Raspail on Sunday? Or to Parigi's "scary veg lady"?

                      1. re: shiraschnitzer

                        Kale is a type of cabbage (as should be evident from the name cavalo nero). Chou frisé or borécole are the French words for it. If you're not finding the particular varieties you're used to from another country, well, that could well be.

                        1. re: tmso

                          I always thought Cavalo Nero and Kale (Collard Greens in the US?) were distinct varieties with very different flavours. Granted they are from the same family of vegtables, and Cavalo Nero is often called Italian Kale, but Kale is green, often with curly leaves, whilst Cavalo Nero is very dark green (almost purple/black) with long slender leaves.

                          1. re: PhilD

                            I'm not familiar with the term cavalo nero but I can guarantee that kale and collard greens are NOT the same thing. Kale is green and usually has curly leaves. Collard greens are flat green leaves with a very different taste and texture.

                            1. re: kfoster21

                              I find the problem with vegetable names is they change from country to country and place to place. I wasn't that certain Kale and Collard Greens where one and the same, however they are very close relatives:

                              I wonder if half the problem we have here is the above. We all use different names for vegetables depending on our backgrounds. When is a Swede a Turnip, or are they both Neeps?

                              1. re: PhilD

                                Actually I always thought a swede was a rutabaga, although I will agree with yellow turnip (as apposed to a white turnip) being the same vegetable. :-)

                                I do agree with your fundmental point. We have run into similiar problems with fish.

                    2. re: shiraschnitzer

                      At Richard Lenoir, I was pretty sure the Jethro Tull-Songs From the Wood-looking north country, pumpkin flogger on east side of the street would have it. Must have been a run on the kale...

                      1. re: Busk

                        You can get something that looks like kale - maybe its mustard greens - from the Mauritian shops in the 10th - notably the one on the corner of the rue de la fidelité and the rue du fbg St Denis. Further down the street, at the the Verger St Denis, he sometimes has what the Italians call "cime di rape". If you're willing to schlep out to Montreuil, at the bustling Friday afternoon market at Croix de Chavaux (well worth a visit just for the fun of it, and the best doughnuts in the île de France, and Gilardeau Oysters at a fraction of the normal price) there's an old Portugese lady who sells homemade bread, a few vegetables from her garden and something that looks like kale. If you want to find her, she's near the stand on the rue de Paris side where they sell knock-off cheese.

                        1. re: vielleanglaise

                          To report back, albeit belatedly: found the kale-like greens in Montreuil--thanks for the tip. I bought some because I'd made a special trip, but they were unfortunately not as fresh as they could/should have been. Closer to home, a new Portuguese traiteur has opened on the rue de Aligre. I'll be checking their supplies, but otherwise it's back to cabbage and chard for me.

                          1. re: shiraschnitzer

                            Oh dear, sorry it wasn't as fresh as it could have been, they've been good in the past. As I mentioned above, and I don't know if they'll do, but you can generally find mustard greens in the Mauritian groceries in the 10th.

                            1. re: vielleanglaise

                              did anyone find kale? by kale I mean:

                              I haven't seen it at any grocery stores... haven't been to the markets yet (not sure when and where they are....) and I really want kale! One person told me to check Asian markets but that doesn't make sense to me, why would it be there? Do you think it would be?

                              1. re: hungryinparis2

                                Isn't it a winter vegetable? I wouldn't think it was in the French shops/markets at this time of year.

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  I looked all winter for kale and never found it. Since there isn't even a French word for it, I don't think people eat it here. (Chou frisé is not kale - it is just another kind of cabbage) I may make a trip to Italy next autumn and bring back a haul ;)

                                  1. re: lloreen

                                    Lloreen, you are not crazy. I have been looking for kale in Paris for about two years. I just found this from a food blogger, dated November 2111: ***Since finding Kale in Paris is impossible, we've been keeping an eye out for it when hitting up farmer's markets around Europe. When in Milan last weekend, we cruised through the Viale Papiniano market on a whim while it was heavily raining and out of nowhere, boom, Tuscan Kale! We bought a few bunches and threw them into our suitcases, as we were flying back to Paris later that day. We've been enjoying Kale in every way possible until the very last leaf since.***

                                    1. re: cookinparis

                                      To think that there are plenty of cruciferae-related leavy vegetables to be had in Paris, from the mustard cabbage and other green leaves at Asian markets to the bunches of kale on the Portuguese stalls at most suburban markets (try the East: Le Perreux, Champigny, Saint-Maur, Vincennes… or the North: Saint-Denis), to leaf broccoli and other green stuff sold by maraîchers on most intra-muros Paris markets...
                                      For your information, chou frisé is kale in French, but there is a terminology problem since Savoy cabbage (chou de Milan) may be also called chou frisé.

                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                        I eat chou frisé because I cannot find kale.

                                    2. re: lloreen

                                      A google images search of Chou frisé turns up both tight head 'savoy cabbage' and 'kale'

                                      Doesn't this name just mean 'curly cabbage'?

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I am also on a kale hunt. My friend in the UK actually got some kale, and I'm so envious... but nobody seems to know what it even IS in France. I'm honestly prepared to raise a dozen kale plants if need be. Just need to figure out where to find those...

                                        1. re: hungreyinparis2

                                          Well I may try Ptipois' suggestions but chou frisé is not kale as I know it. If I find any kale I will certainly let you know. And if you decide to ever grow kale, I may just buy some from you..

                                          1. re: cookinparis

                                            There's more than one type of kale. Is curly kale the one you're looking for? If so, it is indeed very difficult to find around here. Not that it does not exist in France, but it is not commonly found for sale.
                                            However, I maintain that the proper translation for kale in French is "chou frisé". Not to be confused, as I wrote above, with the chou de Milan which is also called frisé to differentiate it from "chou lisse", the white cabbage (the one used in coleslaw).

                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                              Ptipois, firstly, I like all the kinds of kale I have had but curly will certainly do. Secondly, I am not disagreeing with what you have said regarding it being called "chou frisé" because when I started hunting for it, I made sure that I knew the french word for it and it was "chou frisé". Thirdly, thank you for your help and suggestions - I am definitely going to check out some of these markets. Fourthly and lastly, although I have used the term "chou frisé" and do not doubt that it is the proper translation, I am now going to attempt to find the kale that I know using the term "chou frisé demi-nain" thanks to paulj's suggestion.

                                              1. re: cookinparis

                                                Kale in France is mostly known as an ornamental plant. In an attempt to recreate old-fashioned (actually Renaissance) ornamental vegetable gardens, some landscape artists employed by the Monuments historiques or national gardens do plant a lot of kale among their flowerbeds. You may find it associated with rainbow chard, Florence fennel, orache, etc. In the Summer only. Not that great for a mid-Winter craving, I know.

                                                Look for that style of gardening at le Jardin des Plantes or Jardin du Luxembourg, but particularly at the "potager ornemental" at Villandry, in the Loire valley, where they grow masses of ornamental kale that look like ostrich feathers. Quite impressive but not officially edible.

                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                  And then there's a couple kinds of kale from there...

                                                  There's flowering kale (so pretty) like here:


                                                  And then there's Tuscan kale that Ptipois is alluding to, which is absolutely edible:


                                                  (that's the stuff I see growing around my town)

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Tuscan kale is edible for sure... By "not officially edible" I meant that it was a bit tricky to go about those gardens picking your dinner from the flowerbeds, however tempting that may be :-)

                                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                                      ah, okay -- If Le Parisien reports theft of kale from municipal flower bowls, I don't know nothin' 'bout 'nothin'.

                                                2. re: cookinparis

                                                  I doubt that using the term "chou vert demi-nain" will help you a lot, unless you're dealing with a vegetable grower specializing in "forgotten" varieties. You'd better ask for "chou frisé". But it does not really help to ask for something at a market, since what you see is what you get. If you don't see it there, then it is not available.

                                                  Your best bet in Paris markets is the maraîchers, the vegetable producers, who at least should know the plant by name (try both names in this case). They may tell you where to find it. The "producteur-maraîcher" sign will be quite visible and a sure way to spot the producers is to look at their vegetables: knobbly, leafy, sandy, fresh-looking though irregular-shaped, and varieties unavailable elsewhere. Some of them may grow kale just because they fancy it, which is why I suggest that you take a good look at maraîchers and bio market stalls, if you're not willing to go to the Portuguese stalls in the suburbs.

                                                  There are some organic/traditional maraîchers all over Paris markets. There is a great one at the Anvers market, in the 9th. If you asked him about chou frisé, I am sure he would know what you mean.

                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                    "I doubt that using the term "chou vert demi-nain" will help you a lot, unless you're dealing with a vegetable grower specializing in "forgotten" varieties. "

                                                    The Weird Vegetable Lady, a maraîcher biker chick in the Friday afternoon Anvers market, grows, and sells a lot of, duh, weird vegetables. She is the one who turned us on to topinambour, cerfeuil tubéreux and crosnes (the latter is soooooo in season now!).
                                                    Her stand is also often full of carrots of the strangest colors and several types of choux, although I have not noticed American-type kale there (and was not looking for them).
                                                    (Living up to her nickname and then some, she refused to be photographed for this article.)

                                                    Btw, W.V.L. does not have a huge stock. In the same market are several primeurs with a huge array of vegetables.

                                            2. re: hungreyinparis2

                                              I, too, have been looking for kale.

                                              Planted some Italian kale last year, but the drought here in the Ile de France destroyed everything in my garden.

                                              I HAVE seen Italian kale -- aggravatingly, growing in the flower bowls planted and maintained by the city, smack in the middle of every roundabout in town. (Not in Paris - a small town out in the provinces)

                                              yes, I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how I could harvest some of it, since it's being grown strictly as an ornamental. Grr.

                                              But I'm with the rest of you -- I can't find kale for sale anywhere.

                                              My Portuguese grocer has collards and mustards from time to time -- and you can always ask any produce vendor for turnip greens -- but no kale.

                                              (I don't like greens, but I do like kale in soups and stews)

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                If one is really desperate for kale (and that is not everybody), I still recommend to search the Portuguese connection more thoroughly.

                                                I have seen kale on the Portuguese stalls at suburban markets, but particularly in the Eastern burbs - don't ask me why - mentioned above. I should add the marvellous and huge Charenton covered market to the selection. Kale is an important ingredient of caldo verde.

                                                And of course the Asian markets in the 13e, Belleville, or upper Marais have all sorts of leafy cabbage-related things.

                                                Not to forget the African greed for greens manifested through all sorts of green bunches to be grabbed in the Château-Rouge shopping neighborhood, but actually African cuisines are not very much into cruciferae, with the exception of chou pommé and turnips. But if you're really having a "mid-Winter craving for dark greens", that would be the place to satisfy it.

                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                  I think I'm going to go on a renewed mission for kale this week/month. I actually had a dream about kale last night.

                                                  1. re: hungreyinparis2

                                                    See my above post re friday market at Croix de Chavaux at Montreuil.

                            2. re: shiraschnitzer

                              Ptipois is quite right (as usual)... in France, kale is chou frisé... but to add a little more clarity to your request, ask for "chou frisé non-pommé" to avoid getting a more Savoie cabbagey version.

                              Kale of the type that you are looking for is more commonly used to feed livestock than for human consumption in France. But things are changing. The health food fad has created a larger demand for kale (for juicing rather than cooking) so you will probably find it in the marché bio on the boulevard Raspail on Sunday ... I've come across it at the Marché Saxe-Breteuil and more occasionally at the marchés Bastille (which, I presume is what some posters mean when they say Richard-Lenoir) and Popincourt. I've also seen it sold in a few of the Japanese épiceries on the rue Sainte Anne and rue Petits Champs.... failing that, find a health food juice bar that has "jus vert de kale" (using the English word makes it more hip and healthy, it seems) on the menu and ask them where they get their chou frisé non-pommé.

                              1. re: Parnassien


                                "Kale is an elusive ingredient in France: it is grown essentially as an ornamental plant (I'm told the name is chou vert demi-nain) and not commonly sold as a vegetable. "

                                Clotilde Dusoulier had to go to Canada to indulge.

                      2. Wow, I live in Anchorage Alaska and dino kale is the only kind of kale I actually like. I have it frequently throughout the year.

                        I'm surprised it's harder to find in Paris than it is in Anchorage, which is famous for being a small marketplace "at the edge of the world".

                        It is a wonderful, versatile vegetable..I wish you the best of luck in locating a reliable source.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: cariqunyil

                          I see the "American-like" chou frisé much more often in the Mediterranean, especially in Spain, much less so in Paris.

                          "I'm surprised it's harder to find in Paris than it is in Anchorage, which is famous for being a small marketplace "at the edge of the world"."

                          Why surprised? Different places have different agriculture, hence the concept of terroir.

                          1. re: Parigi

                            Trust me, there is no terroir in Alaska this time of year. 95% of the produce in our stores during winter is shipped in,from the lower 48, the rest grown in greenhouses.

                              1. re: cariqunyil

                                Alaska is known for its show stopper head cabbages, though I don't what they are used for, besides winning blue ribbons. :)

                                Since Kroger/Fred Meyer distributes (organic) dino kale to stores in Portland and Seattle, I'm not surprised that it is also included in the shipments to Anchorage stores. One of the ways that American grocery chains try to out do each other is in offering exotic produce.

                          2. Hi guys!Hellp me please, I am from Latvia, and we dont have here dino Kale, where can I buy he in LOndon?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: KristinaA

                              This is the French board so doesn't cover London - but varieties Kale is available in greengrocers and supermarkets in the UK. However its an autumn/winter vegetable so you won't see much around now.