A thoroughly charming memoir of one woman's expat life in Paris and her quest to bring kale to France. This was one of my favorite reads this year. Read my review and interview with the author. And be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy!
Title: Bonjour Kale: A Memoir of Paris, Love, and Recipes
Release date: May 6, 2016
A memoir of love, life, and recipes from the woman who brought kale to the City of Light. The story of how one expat woman left her beloved behind when she moved to France - her beloved kale, that is. Unable to find le chou kale anywhere upon moving to the City of Light with her new husband, and despite not really speaking French, Kristen Beddard launched a crusade to single-handedly bring kale to the country of croissants and cheese. Infused with Kristen’s recipes and some from French chefs, big and small (including Michelin star chef Alain Passard) Bonjour Kale is more than just a leafy-green. It is a humorous, heartfelt memoir of how Kristen finds herself in a new home and how she, kale, and France collide.
Kristen is a great writer, capturing my interest with her humor and descriptions of her life in New York, the Parisian streets, markets and way of life, interspersed with French words and expressions which I understood. I loved how she included the history of kale, how it became popular and how she reintroduced it in France. Here in Quebec, kale is called chou frisé and is easily found everywhere.
I also enjoyed the recipes and was happy that Kristen included tips on how to use kale. I have made kale chips several times, but they never came out as good as when I tried Kristen's recipe. And the key to a good kale salad? You have to massage the dressing into the kale so it marinates the leaves. It's true that this makes the salad tastier. Ever since reading this book, I've made more use of kale instead of just using it daily in my smoothies. And oh, Kristen's descriptions of food and meals at the restaurants interspersed throughout the book made my mouth water.
Best of all, I enjoyed Kristen's journey in pursuing something she was passionate about. She left her home and job in America to follow her husband to a country where she did not speak the language. She reinvented herself after going through times of doubt, vulnerability, and self-reflection. She was courageous and accomplished something worthwhile, something that had great meaning in her life and that taught her important things about herself and those around her, including the people and culture of France.
Her passion and enthusiasm for kale helped her make friends with others who came to understand her quest -- farmers and chefs. My dad, a gentleman farmer and lover of verdura who owns a large garden plot, started growing kale a few years ago after he learned the nutritious value of kale. Farmers are great people to know. They love the land and growing food is their life in more ways than one. I enjoyed reading about Kristen's interaction with them.
If you love memoirs set in France, like stories about the expat life, are a foodie or love to cook, then you will love Bonjour Kale. It's heartwarming, inspiring, fun to read and it's a clean read. It's one of the best books I've read this year.
To read more reviews, please visit Kristen Beddard's page on France Book Tours.
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