Kristen Beddard moved to Paris as a “trailing spouse,” relocating for her new husband’s job but sure she’d find work of her own soon enough. Her joy gave way to homesickness that cried out for comfort food, but zut alors! The French, they did not, how do you say, have any kale. Or rather, they thought they did, perkily handing over savoy cabbages at every market and farm stand Beddard visited. Undaunted, she continued her quest for leafy greens, a calling that’s documented with charming style in Bonjour Kale.
Beddard’s tales of growing up with a health-foodie mother (and the inclusion of some of her nourishing recipes) make it clear the author was not an entitled monster demanding smoothies from her new neighbors. Once she learned that kale had become a “lost and forgotten” vegetable in France, it was a short leap to realizing that the American focus on kale as a “superfood” wouldn’t fly with the French, who found such ideas ridiculous. Still, Beddard’s efforts persisted, and her dogged outreach led her to better fluency in the language and new friendships.
This is a sweet story, and the included recipes follow a nice arc, from Entry-Level Vegetable Soup, a simple, low-cost belly-warmer, to recipes created by a chef who figured into her later success, creating an all-kale menu to help bring the message to the masses. Read closer, though, and you’ll see how many times Beddard was ready to give up, but managed to do one small thing to nudge the project along; her persistence is inspiring. Bonjour Kale reminds us not only to eat our greens but also to follow our dreams.