Friday, May 14, 2010

Adventures in Rhubarb

On my other blog, for the museum, I am doing a series on what is known as "Six Weeks Of Want" back in the 19th century. As part of this, I am cooking foods that would have been eaten at this time of year, when food was really still very scarce.

Rhubarb is the very first vegetable that would have been avaliable  at this time of year around here and is growing in many gardens.  I have 2 of my own plants but they are small and did not yield much this year. So when I stopped at Wegmans today I asked for Rhubarb.

They. Did. Not. Have. It.

Seriously, there are grapes from Chile and all sorts of stuff from Mexico, but no Rhubarb from down the street. (Small aside,Wegman's does do a bang up job with local produce in the summer.)

I guess people aren't using Rhubarb much which is a shame. And I'll admit I've never cooked with it either. I've been looking forward to it since I planted it last year though. But  it's a shame that a food that we once thought of as a staple, and even a treat, because Rhubarb can't really be eaten without sugar, something that we looked forward to, has been relegated to an old fashioned obscure vegetable. And what about this whole eating local movement-Here is a pretty prolific, indestructible, perennial plant that produces earlier than any other and we ignore it. I think it's kind of sad.

We (me and my dad, see post below)  stopped at a local place, Apple Annie's because I thought they might have some. The owner, introduced me to his son who was my age (not for like a date or anything....) by telling me his son was a 4th generation farmer. (Come to think of it, perhaps he was trying to get his son a date, I probably look like a woman who would be impressed by this.)  Anyway, he didn't have any cut yet so he went out back, and chopped a HUGE amount of Rhubarb for me. And charged me $2 for all of it. When I protested he asked if I had been there before (which I have) and would I be back (I will) and he went on to tell me that he likes to treat his customers like family. (hmm...This is getting more and more fishy the more I think of it-Perhaps he wanted me to join HIS family.....) He even sold me 2 more Rhubarb plants. He took a long time to cut the Rhubarb (Probably to give his son time to ask me out, which he did not do) but I did have a very nice chat with him about the 400 tomato seedlings he is growing.  The whole time my dad was waiting in the car for me. I felt like I was 14 years old.... With my dad there, and the farmer's son awkwardly hitting on me..... (kidding...)

All kidding aside, it was a really nice visit. The farmers were really friendly. And generous with the Rhubarb and I will  be going back. I'm glad Wegmans didn't have it because it really was worth a side trip.

I love stuff like huge bunches of Rhubarb and Friendly Farmers....

I'll post some links to my other blog when I actually create something out of this bounty!


Jeannine said...

that's really funny! My uncle grows rhubarb and I too would like too. I usually make Loring a strawberry/rhubarb pie for his birthday.And any leftover filling i save and serve over vanilla icecream.....yum

The Fine Art of Motherhood said...

Nice! I believe my dad went to high school with your future father-in-law! ;) Hey, is rhubarb what they used to refer to as "pie plant"? And if not, what IS pie plant? Always wondered about that!

Meredith said...

I'll bet that rhubarb still had some dew on it. Or rain water.
Just like when the egg is still warm from the chicken when I collect them, rain water produce is the best. And straight from teh farmer - you can totally not get any better than that.
And I will also totally bet that he would have hit on you if you were not wearing a ring. :) I have found that farmers look for other farmers. Who wants an "indoor" girl anyway!

Unknown said...

My neighbor sent over a lovely meal and a loaf of some yummy rhubarb bread a few weeks back while my Dad was in the hospital. She then told me while she was growing up neighbors of hers use to grow lots of rhubarb and as kids they would pick it fresh and eat it up buy dipping it in sugar.

Excellent find on the rhubarb but if you our my way you will find a house that sells rhubarb each year right out of their garden, 1.5LB for $3.

Christine said...

Jeannine I think I'm going to make a pie this week sometime! (Among other things!)

Deanna-YES! Rhubarb is also knows as Pie Plant. Remember that part in The Frist 4 Years where Laura forgets the sugar-It was a Rhubarb Pie she was making!

Yup, Fresh from the ground Meredith, can't get any fresher than that!

Krisin-You are the 3rd person who told me a story of someone dipping rhubarb in sugar and just eating it since I wrote this post! I may have to try it!

And now I have 4 plants! Someday I'm sure I'll have enough for my own use but I'll check out by you the next time I'm out that way. $3 sounds like a good deal. Not as good as my $2 for an enormous bunch but then again, I think that farmers was offering it as part of a dowery for his son!!!

Unknown said...

Yes Chrissy I think there was more too it then just being a generous farmer.