Why Kale Is Suddenly Hip
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“No darling, no one's eating that sort of food anymore. There's a fabulous new Japanese in Mayfair. Everything is raw. Anything with a pulse is lunch,” said Patsy, best friend to Edina. And so the two reconsidered their lunch plans because, you know, they had to eat what was hot (even if that meant it was raw).
On the cult Brit comedy "Absolutely Fabulous," everything had its moment, either on lead character Eddy’s body or in her home. Determined to be the most fashionable of the fashion set, Eddy didn’t miss a trend, be it Buddhism, feng shui, colonics, raw food or a closet-full of her favorite Christian Lacroix (“Lacroix, sweetie, Lacroix” she would rush to tell her daughter who would suspiciously eye her ill-fitting, garishly colored outfits). People as trend were not excluded, so explaining her excitement that her unmarried daughter was pregnant by a black man she’d never met, Eddy squealed, “Biracial babies are the Chanel bag of babies!” while picturing herself walking down London’s hippest sections with a half white, half-black baby accessorizing and highlighting her fabulousness.
Though Ab Fab debuted in 1994, the notion that everything has trend potential is still very much alive in today’s fashion world. Case in point: today’s morning tweet by Derek Blasberg, fashion writer and author of New York Times bestseller Very Classy, who posted: “What's the biggest trend in fashion right now? Kale. Yes, I'm talking about the vegetable. It's so hot right now.”
Not surprising, considering his trend-spotting radar-like accuracy, Blasberg is right. Kale, once the side dish that parents snuck onto a dinner plate in the hopes their kids wouldn’t complain as they got a hit of vitamin A, potassium, iron and fiber, has experienced an upsurge in popularity—and an upgrade in presentation. Forget being dumped in CorningWare and slapped on a table, kale, once an uncredited substitute for collard or mustard greens, is now gussied up and given top billing as chips, accompanied by pancetta or doused with lemon and parmesan for a raw salad. Try to find a hip menu without a kale dish on it.
Not only is it now the ingredient du jour, but it has bumped out a few other once-cool veggies. Retweeting Blasberg, Twitter legend (41,000 followers and growing) and creator of celeb media sensation event Dinner with Bevy, Bevy Smith added “Brussels sprouts r so ova.” Remember how last year everyone with a restaurant was shredding Brussels sprouts, roasting its leaves or seeing how many ways it could accompany gnocchi, risotto or a slab of also-trendy pork? “It used to be that you couldn’t escape a Brussels sprout,” says Smith about what inspired her tweet. “Now at chic restaurants, it’s all about kale.”
A lot of snark could be trotted out about the notion that a food is a tweet-worthy trend. Yet considering that what used to be trendy were cigarettes, tanning with oil (not sunscreen), “heroin chic” thinness and cocaine, it’s actually refreshing that a food with more nutritional value than also-hip doughnuts and macaroons is enjoying its moment in the spotlight. And with the lifespan of a trend being shorter than an "Ab Fab" episode, here’s to kale having as much longevity as the farmer’s market staple, ever-popular heirloom tomato.
Ayana Byrd is the author of "Hair Story" and "Naked."