Kill The Culture Of Cool Kale, Food Critic Says

Kale is cool. For foodies, anyway. It’s everywhere these days — in salads, smoothies, chips and even ice cream. Someone decided to create National Kale Day — it’s Oct. 3 this year. There’s a book called Fifty Shades of Kale and it’s been called a “superfood.” And who wouldn’t want to wear kale-themed leggings?

You get the point — kale is popular.

Enter Mimi Sheraton, who says she’s “waged a one-woman anti-kale campaign” for the past two years. The longtime food writer and former New York Times food critic says she’s seen kale “like scorched bits of burned paper atop pizzas, muffled into pesto as a dusty, bitter blanket over pasta and risotto, studded like flecks of parchment into brownies and cookies, muddying up the cool elegance of ice creams and sorbets.”

Are we putting too much pressure on this little superfood that could?

But as Sheraton writes in The Daily Beast, it turns out she didn’t always feel such loathing toward the leaf. In 1976, she wrote what she calls a “paean” to kale.

Sheraton may have helped popularize the very thing she now rails against.

But she’s come to the conclusion that “it’s not the kale that’s at fault, it’s the cooks who now serve it raw, grilled, roasted, toasted, dried, so that it has the texture of broken ceramic chips.”

Sheraton elaborated on her great many opinions about kale with NPR’s Michel Martin.

Interview Highlights

Why she has been anti-kale

I thought I just hated kale in the current way it’s being served. And then my son reminded me that 40 years ago, in 1976 in The New York Times, I wrote a great paean to kale. It was about cooking kale for cold winter nights and all the stews and soups. And as I dug out that article and read through it, I realized that it wasn’t kale I hated, it’s the way it’s currently being prepared.

And of course the fact that as a fashionable food, it’s become so ubiquitous and it’s become a symbol on menus that wannabe gourmets are in an “in” place.

But when I liked kale, it was cooked in traditional ways — very soft, always in a stew or soup and always with some kind of fat. Whether it was olive oil and garlic by Italians, whether it was soul food — simmer it for a long time with ham hocks or salt pork. In certain parts of Northern Europe it would have been sautéed first in goose or duck fat, then liquid added and simmered. And that softness made it palatable and pleasant.

What I don’t like about it now is the grilling and the roasting or raw, very hard chips that bring out the worst flavor notes of kale: a kind of dirty, musty bitterness that more or less leaches out.

All these kale chips — no.

No. Kale on top of pizza, which burns and becomes like little stray pieces of paper. You get little leathery bits in brownies or cookies now. I occasionally go into a gym in my neighborhood — not to go to the gym but to buy some cookies — and the oatmeal cookies have kale in them.

Kale is not only loaded with nutrients, but it’s become a emblem of a healthy lifestyle that’s increasingly appealing to Americans ready to move away from processed, high-calorie food.

Why has it traditionally been a cold-weather vegetable?

When I was growing up, it was the only vegetable left outdoors on stand in winters at greengrocers. And that’s because it was believed that to be tender enough to eat, kale had to freeze before it was cooked. And so they would leave it out in the snow and the frost would freeze it. And that breaks the cell wall in a plant, and therefore when you cook it, it’s already slightly broken apart and becomes very tender. It was believed it just was inedible unless it had frozen first.

Is there anything else about the current food scene that drives you crazy?

What I regret very much is a certain moralistic, messianic tone of people who advocate responsible eating — which I would advocate too, but there is a certain tone, that if you don’t do this, if you don’t eat organic, if you don’t buy locally, you’re a bad person — which I think is wrong.

Along with that: You must cook. If you don’t like to cook you’re a bad person. I think if you don’t like to cook maybe you’re a lucky person because you have a lot of time for other things.

And always, you get tired of fad foods — of something that becomes so big at the moment. There was a time when rosemary was on everything where it didn’t belong, and so on. So that kind of thing.

And noise in restaurants is a pet peeve.

Source: npr

Malaysian Nyonya Meat Rolls (Lobak)


600 g ground pork shoulder
1 piece bean curd sheet
1 small leek, finely sliced
1 egg
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp dark soy sauce
salt to taste


  1. Add sliced leek, egg, five spice powder, light and dark soy sauces and salt to pork and mix well.
  2. Cut bean curd sheet into square wrappers.
  3. Place pork on each wrapper of bean curd sheet and slowly wrap it up into a roll with sealed ends.
  4. Heat pot or frying pan. Add enough oil to fry Lobak. When oil is hot, fry Lobak until golden. Drain in a metal sieve.
  5. Slice the rolls and serve.

Source: Penang Nyonya Cooking

In Pictures: Malaysian Nyonya Cuisine

Watch Your Step – Blur Affects Stepping Accuracy in Older Adults

Visual blurring — like that produced by bifocals or multifocal lenses — may cause errors in foot position when walking. And that could contribute to the risk of tripping and falling in older adults, suggests a study in the June issue of Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

The effects of blur on stepping accuracy are greatest when the person is looking ahead of where he or she is stepping, according to the study by Alex A. Black, BAppSc(Optom), PhD, and colleagues of Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. They believe that blur and gaze position may be key factors affecting the risk of falls–especially in “challenging environments where precision stepping is required.”

Blur When Looking Ahead Through Bifocals May Affect Risk of Falling

Nineteen older adults (average 72 years) with normal vision were studied while performing a series of “precision stepping tasks.” The subjects performed the tasks while fixing their gaze on a target footprint, or 30 to 60 centimeters (one to two feet) ahead of the target. Gaze position was performed by an eye-tracking device.

The subjects were also tested while wearing either their normal glasses or glasses producing blurred vision. The amount of blur was similar to that caused by looking at a distance through the “reading lens” of a pair of bifocals or multifocal (“progressive”) lenses. Stepping accuracy was measured precisely using digital photography.

The participants made larger foot placement errors, and varied more in step position, when they were looking ahead of the stepping target. Visual blurring also led to increased stepping errors and variability.

The errors were greatest with the combination of blurred vision and looking ahead, especially when looking two feet ahead of the target. Blur resulted in significant “understepping” errors — that is, the foot falling short — when the subjects’ gaze was directed beyond the target.

Visual blur and gaze position may contribute to the risk of falling in older adults. Blurred vision from wearing bifocals or progressive lenses may further contribute to the risk of falling — especially in the lower part of the field of view. Nearly all middle-aged and older adults need this type of vision correction due to aging-related vision changes (presbyopia).

While the stepping errors measured in the study were relatively small, Dr. Black and coauthors note that the risks could be greater in situations where foot placement is critical for safety–“such as when negotiating stairs or uneven pavements, where even small errors in foot position may be enough to instigate a trip or fall.”

Especially for older adults at high risk of falling, the results serve as a reminder to “watch their step”. Dr. Black and colleagues write, “Our findings…support the benefits of gaze training to maintain gaze position on stepping locations when undertaking precision stepping tasks and to improve stepping accuracy and minimize the risk of slips and trips.” The researchers also suggest that some patients might benefit from single-vision prescription glasses to be worn while walking–particularly for active older adults.

“Falls for the elderly can be quite serious in consequence, so adopting strategies for avoiding falls is very important,” comments Anthony Adams, OD, PhD, Associate Editor of Optometry and Vision Science. “Our authors highlight the difficulty that bifocal and multifocal prescription glasses may create for the elderly, particularly if they gaze past the stepping point.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Today’s Comic