If you’re into the outdoor markets of Paris or high-quality vegetables in general, you most likely know who Joël Thibault is. He’s pretty much the King of Legumes à Paris and is famous for his beautiful heirloom produce. Restaurants go to him to buy their daily produce because it’s just that good. As my friend Emily from Paris Paysanne said to me:
He is a rockstar.
Back in June when Paris was still cold and grey and felt nothing like summer, Susannah, an early supporter of The Kale Project reached out to me saying that her husband knows Joël directly through his restaurant and that she wanted to introduce me. Her husband would join us as he not only had the relationship but also was the best French linguist out of the three of us, as in he is fluent.
I felt like I was going to meet a celebrity!
Before our meeting, I checked out Joël’s vast offerings at his stand at Place du President Wilson on Wednesday and Saturday. I could not believe the colors and options. Multi-colored carrots, heirloom tomatoes, baskets full of fresh herbs, purple, yellow and white chou fleur, yellow and red baby beets… The possibilities of what I could do in my kitchen that week were endless.
A week later, it was time to officially meet him but Susannah’s husband could not get away from his restaurant… so it was going to be me talking to the rockstar of Paris vegetables by myself in my mediocre French. I was already nervous to meet him and now I was going to have to explain The Kale Project alone? Eeek.
But I did. And somehow the words came out. Of course there were grammatical errors but he understood me and didn’t think I was completely crazy. He was up for growing more kale and would start in September.
Two months later…
This morning I woke up, did an hour of French homework and decided to go for a run by the Seine which always leads me towards Place du President Wilson and it was Wednesday. I guess I became inspired from the running high because I decided to go and say hello to Joël and make sure he was still going to plant kale for the fall.
Lucky for us, he planted a little bit already this summer and I saw the last bunch of the day.
And wouldn’t you believe it that I didn’t bring any money with me? I literally had to watch another woman, who barely knew what it was, buy the bunch. If anything I rambled on and on about kale to her as she asked Joël what it was.
I talked to Joël again about The Kale Project and what’s happening in the next few months. He was kind, wonderful, patient with my French and open-minded about the entire thing. Most importantly:
Is he planning to grow more kale for the fall? YES!
Upon leaving I think I was so excited, overwhelmed that he had kale and jittering from speaking French with him for 15 minutes that I said Au Revoir and blew him a kiss.
I blew Joël a kiss. Who does that?
Aside from my apparent crush on the King of Legumes, Joël will have a few bunches left over the next few days before his small summer harvest is finished. Get it while you can and if you do, I would love to see photos of all the Paris supporters with their kale and what you do with it.
The only way kale will become more common in France is if we work together to get the word out about why kale is awesome and what people can do with it!
Tuesday & Friday, Rue Gros 16ème
Wednesday & Saturday, Place de President Wilson 16ème