Greetings from Spain!
Murcia, to be exact, where the lemons are harvested, the squash are planted, and next year’s kale seeds are on their way from the UK. Profesor Egea, the local guru of ecological agriculture, is going to plant again, as will some friends in Cehegin, and we will again try to sell at local markets. When I demo / cook response is always super positive, but I have to say we haven’t yet managed to turn the corner on generating demand, outside of a small group of converts. (Thank you converts!)
Still, we have a lot of fun trying, most recently at a workshop at the university where I was invited to cook kale on a ChirinBiciSolar, a mobile solar powered “hotplate” created by the folks at Huerta Bizarra. They are a local collective that promotes sustainable environmental and economic development and while they demonstrated how the ChirinBici works I produced 10 Kale Grilled Cheese sandwiches and about 70 tapas of Kale Scrambled Eggs.
The most fun was cooking for a visiting school group of 8-10 year olds who were completely amazed that anything edible could come from a solar-powered stove and even more amazed that a green vegetable could taste so good. One little guy had 7 tapas and when he was leaving and saw three left on the plate he ran back to get them. If only other generations were so easy to win over!
However, at least based on a 48-hour visit, it seems that kale has found a welcome home in Barcelona where I readily found supplies at organic grocers and ordered a kale salad at Teresa Carles’s Flax and Kale, an organic restaurant just north of El Raval.
On the way home I wandered into a place called The Green Farmers, also in El Raval, to witness several locals buying some end-of-season lacinto kale and talking up a storm with the owner about recipes and what to make. I waited in line to have a chat as well, and learned that the owners grow all of their own supplies, some in Catalonia but the bulk in Tenerife where the conditions are better for the col family. Their opinion is that kale will advance slowly and regionally in Spain, driven by “food centers” such as Barcelona and the Basque country, and according to local growing conditions. If anyone is interested in learning more you should stop by the shop; the owners are happy to talk and share information.
Still, I hope to see kale gain a foothold even in traditional Murcia, and just this past week met a very local organic farmer (his fields are behind the farmacy, just down the road) who is open to trying kale this year. He sells on Thursdays at the big street market, and that would give us a lot of exposure. Poco a poco!
Happy almost summer from Spain.