Being the American I am and as someone who lived in and loves New York City, I have been glued to my computer the past few days consuming more than enough Hurricane Sandy media, to the point where it has affected my productivity. While all natural disasters are horrible and my heart goes out for the unfortunate ones who have lost so much, it’s even more surreal when you recognize places you used to frequent under water, it really hits home.
For this week’s For The Love of Kale, I want to introduce one of the most lovely people I’ve met in Paris. Terresa from La Cucina di TerrESa – who has been growing her own kale in her community garden in the 12th for years. Terresa discovered The Kale Project through a friend and we connected and upon la rentrée, met for an afternoon of homemade kale tapenades and natural wine in her garden. Terresa is one of the kindest souls I have ever met and still gives strong, American hugs even after living in Paris for more than twenty years. She told me about her experiences of starting to eat well in her early twenties when she still lived in California, when kale was just considered “soul-food,” then about her experiences in France, learning French and her deep love for Italian cuisine and cooking. She remembers a time when you could not find broccoli in France (The Broccoli Project?)!
Pairing her love for vegetarian and Italian cooking and food traditions, Terresa offers wonderful cooking lessons where you will work with simple and fresh ingredients and prepare a wonderful meal which you eat together with a natural wine from the Loire Valley. I recently took one of her classes and have since used so many of the things I learned with her. It was by far one of the most interesting culinary experiences I’ve had in Paris.
Describe what kale tastes like to you in one sentence?
The earth, dug-up roots, steely dirt under my fingers, the smell of a wild stallion.
When did you first try kale?
Before you were born… 40 some years ago.
What is your favorite way to eat kale?
Simply lightly wilted with a teeny pinch of peperoncini then slated with hand harvested sea salt. Then tossed with olive oil then a generous squeeze or two of lemon or lime juice and then a very generous pinch of lemon or lime zest with a couple twists of the pepper grinder.
If you were serving kale to kale-virgin, what would you do?
I’d serve it very naked… gotta excite those virgins!
Throughout your time living in France, how have the offerings of vegetables evolved?
Mostly in the organic-biodynamic-local-farmer sphere you see closer or distant cousins of familiar varieties of vegetables crop up… they are the precursors of any real evolution.
With your experience with the French and their relationship with vegetables, what can you tell us about the French and chou?
There’s an expression, mon petit chou (sweetie or sweetheart) which relates more to chou à la crème than a head of cabbage from the crucifere family…but I think that says it all: chou is sweet and loved by them… the vegetable, as well, especially in the fall and winter.
Whether you live in Paris or will be visiting and want a truly authentic cooking experience, look into a lesson with Terresa – you will not be disappointed.