by Maria Theresa Maggi on March 7, 2019

"Kalette," life and memory charcoal pencil, pastel and watercolor pencil sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

“Kalette,” life and memory charcoal pencil, pastel and watercolor pencil sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

I have fallen in love with a new vegetable. It’s a little kale flower that grows on a stalk the way brussel sprouts do. In fact, it’s a cross between kale and brussel sprouts. But I didn’t have to know any of this to fall in love.

My heart was stolen the January Saturday at the indoor winter market that I first spied what looked like bags filled with little tiny bunches of kale. They were so cute I couldn’t resist. I assumed that maybe they were the tops of purple-veined kale plants picked before going to flower.

The third time I was lucky enough to buy these I asked what they were–if they were indeed the flowering tops of kale. That’s when I learned from the folks at Gathering Together Farm  that they are their own varietal.

We tend to shy away from diminutive appellations these days– for instance, we say “actor” not “actress,” we say “flight attendant,” not “stewardess”–and rightly so. Indeed the word “suffragette” was initially a corruption of the word “suffragist”–suggesting a derogatory or less serious inferior effort. (You can read all about that here.)

But some diminutives are just used to distinguish something smaller than usual without the insulting connotation. In this case, that’s definitely what the  “ette” suffix from the French is signaling to me about this new veggie in my life. It may be small, but its pretty little self is packed with flavor that is fresh, earthy and almost sweet. Roasted for a very few minutes after being tossed with a dash of Italian seasoning it’s a curly little blossom of heaven on my dinner plate.

As goes the diminutive kalette, so goes this post: “smaller” than usual. In fact I decided to write the words just so I could post my smitten attempt to draw her. It’s the highest compliment I can imagine–a genuine and humble attempt to experience her essential nature, which exists beyond words.  Many thanks to the farmers around the globe who now coax her into the world.

Dearest kalette, I love you. Thank you for growing in the way that only you do.

Maria (moonwatcher)


Such affectionate talk about diminutives reminds me of one of my literary favorites in that category: The Little Prince. Here he is, his small brave self expounding on wisdom too many of us might dismiss:

“People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they’re looking for…

They don’t find it,” I answered.

And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water…”

Of course,” I answered.

And the little prince added, “But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince




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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susan Voisin March 8, 2019 at 11:53 am

You’ve made me crave something I didn’t know existed! I can’t wait until these beauties make their way here. Thanks for the lovely drawing and description.


2 Maria Theresa Maggi March 8, 2019 at 3:32 pm

Thank you Susan! I am delighted to know this! I can’t wait for them to come to you–and thanks for the kind words about the drawing, too.


3 Gena March 9, 2019 at 4:40 am

This made my day 🙂


4 Maria Theresa Maggi March 9, 2019 at 11:23 am

Oh Gena, you made me laugh with delight! I’m so glad. xoxo


5 veronica March 9, 2019 at 2:28 pm

Oooh! Those sound wonderful! I’ll have to keep an eye out for them at our market. I do love kale and brussels sprouts… And what a lovely little drawingette! 😉 xoxo


6 Maria Theresa Maggi March 10, 2019 at 10:00 am

Thanks Veronica!! Hope you find them. “Drawingette!” Love it!! 🙂 xoxo


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