If any vegetable could be compared to an Instagram influencer it would probably be the Kalette. A happy crossing beween Kale and sprout they were originally called Flowersprouts but it was though that the word sprout was putting people off so it was renamed Kalettes and relaunched with lots of branding, they even have their own website.
If there is one plant on the allotment that almost impossible to get wrong it is Kale. These hardy stalwarts of the winter allotment provide food from summer all the way through to the hungry gap the following spring. Often kale can be quite a large plant getting upwards of a metre. If you are on a windy site or can only provide netting to a certain hight then dwarf green curled could be an option, growing to a slightly more lower 40-60cm.
Kale used to be one of the only fresh green vegetables that could be grown in the UK over winter and tough little numbers like Hungry Gap would brave out the winter frosts, snow and wind. The trouble is that toughness to survive a winter storm lead to toughness on the plate and once supermarkets started flying in vegetables from around the world people turned away from their less palatable staples. Kale was gradually abandoned and started to sink out of peoples memory.
It took The River Cafe which opened in the late 1908’s to bring kale back in to the spotlight but not any kale……..This was a kale of which we’d never seen in the UK before or if we had it had long gone out of production. The kale was Cavolo Nero
For those of you that grow your own you quite often find a packet of seeds at the bottom of your seed box that you don’t remember buying. I don’t know how I ended up with a packet of Afro seeds, possibly it was a free trial seed, certainly none of my usual seed merchants are selling it but I have found one supplier if you want to give it a go and I do think it is worth it.
I’m turning to another staple of the UK Indian restaurant for this canape/appetiser. We consume vast quantities of Bhaji in the UK but did you know that we’ve been spelling them wrong. The closest snack that they resemble is the bajji from the South West of India or the pakoda/pakora (still with me??) from the North where apparently it is eaten during monsoon so what better way to cheer you up in the drizzly autumn and winter here.
When is crispy fried seaweed not crispy fried seaweed?
Go to any Chinese restaurant in the UK and you will find crispy fried seaweed on the menu but in my travels around China where we ate many weird and wonderful things, including hot pots, Beijing duck, tofu shaped to look like tripe, apples grown in the shape of Buddha, shrimp paste fermenting in vats and dumplings that looked like goldfish but not once did we see crispy seaweed.
Over the last few months the chef Jamie Oliver has been the centre of a “cultural appropriation” twitter storm over his Jerk Rice. Slammed, firstly because the spices he uses are not traditional jerk seasoning and secondly no one in Jamaica would consider jerking rice at all. But Jamie is not the first.
Singapore noodles, spicy stir fried rice noodles, available in nearly every Chinese restaurant and take away in the UK Singaporeans would regard you with horror if you even suggested it.
Kale was one of a very few fresh vegetables available in the winter months. Perhaps for this reason, alongside the fact that many kales can be pretty tough and bitter once vegetables could be imported it fell heavily out of fashion.
Kale is one of the those vegetables that we all know is healthy but quite often don’t like it very much so it is often relegated to smoothies, crispy seaweed or crisps.