When I first arrived in France and could not find kale, I began to do a lot of research about whether maybe there was a secret, special spot where someone was selling the vegetable and along the way have learned a lot about kale that I never knew before.
Here is one of the first things I learned and would like to set everyone straight: chou frisé is not kale. Kale is not chou frisé. The photo below is chou frisé and that vegetable is a savoy cabbage.
A lot of people who come to France and try to find kale have this misconception, which is understandable since the Google translation of kale provides chou frisé.
It’s exactly what happened to me when I first arrived. After a quick translation, I happily went off to the market and asked for chou frisé, and was given savoy cabbage instead. Cue my sad face.
I gave the savoy cabbage a go and after the green outer layer, which left much to be desired, the vegetable just becomes another cabbage.
The Latin name for kale is Brassica oleracea acephala. Brassica means cabbage so yes, chou is accurate. It is the words following that leave those looking for kale unsatisfied at the market.
So far, I’ve been able to discover that the closest translation for kale is chou vert demi-nain. And it’s what the French feed to farm animals (specifically pigs) or if someone has a garden, perhaps they use chou vert demi-nain as an ornamental plant.
I’ve seen in a few gardens around Paris and have been tempted to snip off a few leaves for my dinner that night!
For those that have done their own research on this, what have you found?