It’s been great fun learning about kale and the role it has (or doesn’t have) in different cultures. I already knew that Scotland’s kitchen gardens are called “kale yards,” because kale is a staple vegetable to grow almost all year-round, especially in the winter when little else can withstand the cold weather but you can imagine my surprise when I learned that kale used to be part of Irish and Scottish Halloween traditions.
What I did not know is that on Halloween evening, the young adult men and women would pull out stalks of kale plants as a form of predicting their marital futures. The look and shape and even taste of the kale was believed to foreshadow what type of partner they would end up with. A short and stumpy kale stalk? Yes, that would get you a short and stumpy partner. An old, wrinkled kale stalk? That’s right, it means an old and wrinkled husband or wife. Did you kale stalk taste bitter or sweet?
All of this was documented in Robert Burn’s 1785 poem, “Halloween.” where kale is actually spelled kail.
If the kale matchmaking game is not enough Halloween kale for you, then you might like the Irish traditional cabbage dish. In this, charms were hidden in the hot meal of white cabbage, kale and onions. If you accidentally bit on the metal ring, you would never spend another Halloween single but if you bit into a thimble, you would spend the rest of your life a spinster.
For more details about this hilarious Halloween & kale tradition, read the entire article via Food & Think on the Smithsonian’s blog.
If you were raised in Scotland or Ireland, I’d love to hear more about how kale was a part of your childhood.