Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One of my greatest late spring anticipations is the return of our Rhubarb. I kid you not--I get truly excited about this. (Remember the rules, you have to make your own fun!) Sitting on a shelf in my kitchen is an entire cookbook devoted exclusively to rhubarb, called (appropriately enough), Rhubarb Recipes, compiled by Jeanne DeMars (Apple Blossom Books). Truly, would you have known (or even dreamed) that you could make Rhubarb Ambrosia or Rhubarb Daiquiris? One year I made my own concoction for a Rhubarb Martini (even used little stalks for stir sticks--too cute!)...well, after 2 of them....let's just say it's a good thing we had no obligatory responsibilities the rest of the evening!
My all time favorite is my Mom's recipe for Rhubarb Custard Pie (with or without merengue). And if you came over to my house and had a piece, I dare say you might experience at least a slight heart palpitation.

Apparently Rhubarb is indigenous to Asia and was often eaten by the Tater tribes of Mongolia. It's especially common along the Volga River; I imagine one could conclude that it's the Taters that had the good sense to bring it there. Hmmm.... trying to envision Genghis Khan eating a slab o' rhubarb pie....

All kinds of rhubarb species can be found, but usually you'll see what's known as, appropriately, the Garden Rhubarb. There's also False Rhubarb, which isn't false; but we won't go there. Our own Garden Rhubarb used to thrive--it was the envy of the neighborhood. We said the secret was to transplant it at least 3 times and make sure at some point that a huge earth moving machine runs over it. I am not making this up--true story in the life of our rhubarb during our house renovation. Alas, over the years its once sunny location has turned to mostly shade--a Red Bud tree threatening its well-being. Two solutions are being worked on: 1) the Red Bud tree got a severe haircut and 2) I'm caging for rhubarb rights all around the neighborhood. (This led to one rather embarrassing scenario in which I asked a new neighbor, assuming he didn't care about the rhubarb in his backyard, if I could have a few stalks. He was too polite to say no, but it soon became obvious that he had visions of his own Rhubarb Cobbler dancing in his head.) Generally both options are working out. So far.

I hear rhubarb is rather expensive at farmer's markets. If it comes to that, if you actually have to buy the stuff.... well.... it would be worth it!

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