I have in my lunch bag a few stalks of rhubarb. For those of you who do not know about my manic obsession with rhubarb, read on. Rhubarb is a vegetable; it grows on a very ugly plant that looks almost prehistoric. Its one of only two veggies that are perennials, so it’s there for you year after year. Rhubarb also means "A quarrel, fight, or heated discussion" but that has nothing to do with this post.
Okay so rhubarb has a texture akin to celery and a taste like sour patch kids. It’s got a bite, as in, it’s got a kick, as in, its tart, as in, it’s freaking sour! Rhubarb is very tart. It will grab your tonsils, like a pit-bull locking it’s jaws on an enemy. I eat it raw, sliced down the middle and I add a little salt to cut the sour.
When I buy rhubarb people are always perplexed. It’s an odd little morsel and folks aren’t used to seeing it. I recall one encounter at the Safeway. I had purchased a number of stalks of rhubarb a knife and shaker of salt. The clerk started in.
“It’s a snack, I call it rhubarb,” I say. I’m very defensive about it,“It’s 2.99 per/lb, if you don’t know the number.” I've learned that it’s good to know the price to move the line along.
“Isn’t it poisonous?”
“I think it’s poisonous,” She wasn’t going to stop “I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere.”
“You think Safeway sells poisonous vegetables?” Okay it’s starting to get fun. “What would the health inspector say?”
“Are you going to cook it?”
“You need to cook it or it’s poisonous!” She is genuinely worried.
“So I cook it” I say, “And what do I have… hot poison!”
At this point my bag boy “Jimmy Olson” is inspecting my snack. He smelling it and bending the stalks and I just told them both I wasnt going to cook it!
“Don’t man-handle it, just bag it!” I pay and take my misunderstood treat to the car for some alone time.
This isn’t an unusual occurrence. Most people only know rhubarb from pie. I’m not a fan of rhubarb pie. I know there are some of you who like it, and I can respect your food decisions even if I disagree. I feel that putting Rhubarb in pie is just turning it into a potato in stew. There for the texture not the taste. You take sour foods and cover them with sugar and put them in pie. Delicious! Why not take sweet food, and skip the sugar? That pretty much sums up most pies I can pass on. Rhubarb, granny smith apples, and blackberry. I say don’t change it, love it for what it is. Rhubarb, the best tart veggie this summer.