You can eat kale, but it’s hardly worth the effort. Kale and rhubarb look similar, particularly since there’s hybrid kale with red stems like rhubarb. Both have long gangly stems, like an unkempt celery, with sprawling branches and too-big leafy greens. But between the two I am confused: one you only eat the leaves, not stem, and the other you only eat the stems, not leaves. There’s something about poison. And I can never remember which is which. I think it’s kale/leaves and rhubarb/stems. But in the end, who cares? Nasty dark green leaves, cooked into mush like canned spinach, don’t appeal to me, no matter how you try to add color and seasoning. And don’t even try to explain how nice red rhubarb looks and tastes when added to a strawberry pie. Vegetable-fruit combinations always leave me with a nagging suspicion I’ve been the victim of a bait and switch.
While I’ve managed to acquire a taste for many vegetables as an adult, it’s a taste I’ve had to cultivate very carefully. For example, I’ll never get those green olives with red pimento peppers inside them. My Dad used to order his martini “without the fruit” because he too, fund that the not-quite-bitter taste didn’t add a thing to the martini except perhaps a little latent Vitamin C. Kale is like that, but without the fun of a martini.
But ornamental kale, now that’s a different story. We didn’t plant kale or rhubarb in the veggie garden this year. And we didn’t buy ornamental kale in six-pack pony packs from a local nursery. We planted seeds in October. And here’s the result. The ornamental kale “Victoria Pigeon” adds color and survives the frosty nights without a trace of wilt or frostbite. It looks almost pretty enough to eat.