Yesterday, Claire Suddath of Bloomberg Businessweekpublished an article proclaiming that cauliflower is the new kale. Never mind that this specific claim is not even remotely new; in fact, it's an echo of a refrain I've heard too many times to keep track of.
There's nothing exactly wrong with the article, which details how chefs and consumers have gravitated towards this versatile crucifer. But the framing feels rote. Saying something is the new kale can often be more reductive than instructive about the way certain food trends develop. In a response piece for GQ, former Food52 editor Marian Bullpoked holes in Suddath’s argument, explaining how tiresome this rhetorical gesture has become. Leaning on this particular construction reduces kale, in Bull's words, to "a meaningless, shapeless symbol." I share Bull’s skepticism and fatigue.
Cauliflower’s not alone. Many items—there’s a reason I didn’t say foods—have been christened the new kale over the past three years. If you’d like to grasp the inherent uselessness of drawing this comparison, peep at this list, arranged alphabetically, and count how many times your face contorts into a halpert.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.