Diaries Magazine

Quel Chou? Kale Chou!

Posted on the 21 February 2014 by Ellacoquine @ellacoquine
Quel chou? Kale chou!
  In my almost five years in Paris, I have learned never to start the day with grand expectations, especially when it comes to finding specific food items.
On a rainy Friday morning, I walked over to the Daumesnil farmer's market to stock up on veggies for the week. All the usual friends were present: onions, garlic, tomatos, chou frisé, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale...whoa, back the train up, kale?! My friend with benefits was there! Delighted by this fine and unexpected discovery, I struck up small talk with the merchant who told me that they were there every Friday and always have kale as it has been in high demand. How progressive for Daumesnil! For fun, I sometimes spruce up our senior citizen area by giving it a New York-style acronym. We came up with SoNa, you know, for South Nation. I know, I know, it so doesn't work, but I always enjoy seeing the expressions on our French friends faces when I tell them that we live in SoNa. Last week, I prepared a shopping list for a dinner party we were hosting, and a part of me knew I was setting myself up for major disappointment, but I did it; I put kale on my list and set off on my journey. My first stop was the supermarket for items like rice milk, dark chocolate tablettes for melting and foie gras toast. Amazingly, the market didn't have dark chocolate tablettes or foie gras toast, yet they had organic rice milk in several varieties. Odd, but I wasn't going to let that discourage me, there were other supermarkets in my neighborhood who would meet such needs. I left the supermarket and made my way over to the farmer's market with my list. Effortlessly, I stocked up on my basic veggies and some cheeses before setting out for my kale. I had remembered that the stand was closer to the Dugommier stop and made a beeline straight for it. Have you ever walked quickly though a farmer's market? I don't recommend it. Everything started to look the same, some of the meat cases had gruesome displays that was making my stomach turn, my bag containing three kilos of veggies were digging into my shoulder, the merchants shouting "One euro, one euro allons-y allons-y!" and having also skipped breakfast that morning, I really thought I was going to faint. It was the Paris farmer's market version of that hazy scene in season one of The O.C when Marissa gets drugged and is wandering the streets of Tijuana. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I finally found the stand, or at least I thought it was, and saw no kale in sight. Of course I didn't. Since I had made it that far, I saw no harm in asking. "Bonjour, do you have any kale chou today?" I asked, remembering that was what they had called it the first time I purchased it. "Comment?"
"Kale chou?" I repeated, struggling as I tried to say kale with a French accent.
"Which chou?"
"Kale chou."
"Mademoiselle, I'm not following you. Which chou do you want?"
"Kale chou?"  After what felt like ten minutes of "kale chou?" "which chou?" It had dawned on me that despite my efforts in saying kale with the best French accent I could conjure up, he thought I was saying quel chou (what chou), over, and over, and over, and over. No wonder he was looking at me like I was out of my damn mind. Feeling slightly embarrassed, as other customers were listening in on our bizarre exchange, with no further explanation, I ran away. There was nothing more to say or do, I just needed to be gone. In my little rubber rain boots, off I went to find refuge. It served me right to think I could go back and get something as uncommon as kale! I couldn't be frustrated, how could I be? What I needed to was to shift my mindset and remember where I was; I was in Paris! With that, I walked over to the nearest boulangerie to pick up the most French thing I could think of, something that is always available and ordered a trusty croissant au beurre. "Oh, we actually don't have anymore." the baker said, "We still have muffins though."
Oh. là. là. Since when are there muffins in Paris? I walked home eating my chocolate chip muffin under my umbrella, reminded that in Paris you just have to let the day take you where it goes and to surrender to the flow. Kale surprise.
Bon week-end a tous!

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