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French name for kale?

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Anyone know what kale is called in France?

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  1. Chou frisee. At least that it is what it is called in French here in Quebec.

      1. Check out this previous thread:

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

        1. In the last year or so, I've seen the labels "kale", "chou kale", and "chou frangé" in various marchés and in some bio/ hip restos. But whatever the name, still not widely available.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Parnassien

            I was going to say -- "pas disponible" for the most part.

            1. re: sunshine842

              "pas disponible" restores my faith in French good taste.

              Having just returned from NYC, kale is everywhere... I even saw "kale brownies" (beurk !) ... but several very trendy locals told me that the kale fad is long past its prime... but who knows ?... I was also told that in the NYC gay pride parade there was one marcher carrying a sign "Lesbians Who Don't Eat Kale" but only had two other followers in her group. Hilarious !

              1. re: Parnassien

                There would be a lot to say about the "kale crusade" (see the NYT article linked above), and nothing very nice on my part, so I'll refrain.

                1. re: Parnassien

                  I actually like kale, and jumped at the chance to get my hands on some when a chum brought some back from her brother's garden in Holland.

                  But kale brownies? That's just nasty.

                2. re: sunshine842

                  Vegetable seller to the stars, Joel Theibault, has kale at his stalls at President Wilson and Gros Fontaine markets.

              2. Chou frisé.

                Sometimes you see it referred to as "chou frisé non pommé" because there is a possible confusion with chou de Milan, also improperly called "chou frisé" by some.

                1. At the "Ruche qui dit oui" where I go, they call it "chou plume".

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                    If they're calling it "chou plume" they're probably selling the most appealing of the kale varieties, what I call "Tuscan" or "Lacinato" or "Dinosaur" kale. Plume is a very apt description of the leaf shape for this lovely kale. (No kale brownies allowed however!)

                    Two years ago, sunshine842 provided a link to a photograph of Tuscan/Lacinato/Dinosaur kale. (URL repeated below) Cut out the thick center rib this variety of kale, slice the greens and you have a lovely green to add to soups and braises. (Slice it thinly enough and it can be eaten raw in a salad.)

                    The variety the French are calling "chou frise" is what I would call simply "green kale." This might be the variety that produces negative feelings about kale. If you click on the link to the French Wiki article about Chou Frise, you'll see a photograph of green kale that I would consider too big for a nice eating experience. Harvested when the plant is that big and the leaves become tough and less appealing.

                    French Wiki photograph:

                    Link to a photograph of Lacinato/Tuscan/Dinosaur kale:

                    1. re: Indy 67

                      Well then I can confirm to you that they are misnaming their kale :)
                      It's definitely the one in the first link that I bought from them. Good in salad, ok lightly sauteed before adding to pasta or eggs, disgusting when overcooked (which can be really fast).

                      1. re: Rio Yeti

                        Rather than misnaming I think they are a bit clueless confronted to kale propaganda, and you see all sorts of names pretty much at random.
                        Cavolo nero was never grown in France, it is an Italian variety, so just "cavolo nero" would be an apt name, as we called romanesco and broccoli by their Italian name when they entered France.
                        What they sell at La Ruche is simply chou frisé. They call it otherwise because they have forgotten the real name, and who could blame them? The French dropped chou frisé long ago because they didn't like it. It's not like they suffer from a lack of vegetable species.

                        1. re: Ptipois

                          "Cavolo nero" will inevitably get shortened to "cavolo" and then people will start saying "du cavoli" and we will never hear the end of it on CH.

                          1. re: Ptipois

                            au contraire -- they DO grow cavolo nero in France-- but it appears in municipal flower gardens, strictly as an ornamental.

                            I gave serious thought to midnight kale raids.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              It's only a recent trend. It began being used as an ornamental plant in fancy potagers like Villandry in the mid-90s. Historically cavolo nero was not grown in France until that time.

                            2. re: Ptipois

                              I wasn't implying that they purposely misnamed it. Actually the guy selling it admitted having bought the seeds by mistake thinking they were just regular "chou"... so he is in fact clueless.

                              But I will tell them the name is not right.

                            3. re: Rio Yeti

                              ... misnaming their kale....

                              Oh dear. I had such high hopes for the folks in Paris who are looking for yummy kale. The feather-shape leaf of the edible Tuscan/Lacinato/Dinosaur kale is much more plume-like than the leaves in the Chou Frise photo. (No points for the plume translation "pen." And now for a brief detour back to school. "La plume de ma tante est sur le bureau de mon oncle.")

                              So how/why did the tastiest variety of kale get perceived as an ornamental plant in France?

                              Here's yet another link to information about Lacinato/Tuscan/Dinosaur kale:


                              1. re: Indy 67

                                "Plume" means feather as well as pen. And "plumer" = to pluck or, more familarly, to rip off, fleece. Given the prices that are being charged for kale in the bio markets in Paris, maybe "chou plume" is indeed the more appropriate term.

                                1. re: Indy 67

                                  Yes, I know. That's why I wrote "feather-shaped leaf."

                                  Your additional comments about the verb "plumer" definitely brought a smile to my face.

                          2. Here in the Savoie, a Chou Frisee is a savoy cabbage, not kale :-/