Saturday, April 19, 2008

Educated Guesses

I have a theory about rhubarb. It goes something along the lines of soon, there will be a serious rhubarb fad. Rhubarb will be the next pomegranate, goji berry, there will be BarbWonderful and I will have this soup, and smile. And then, as quickly as the next issues of all of those magazines appear, rhubarb will fade away and I will smile again.

Rhubarb went through a bad phase. Around the World Wars it was considered a good thing to plant because it grows just about everywhere and it was a good vegetable substitute. What the propaganda neglected to mention was what part of the rhubarb to eat; since the leaves are toxic and the roots a laxative, well, a lot of people were turned off.

Happily, that memory is fading. And also, people are finding more ways to use rhubarb than just pie. (It is really good in pie, tho.) For example, rhubarb syrah soup with honey yogurt sauce is a really good use of rhubarb. I am convinced that most people who like tart things but claim to not like rhubarb would like this soup, at least until you told them it was rhubarb.

Rhubarb, for me, is spring. I never buy it frozen and so I only think of it at this time of year, like Shamrock Shakes. I have a long term taste memory for it, unlike anything else I can think of. I made the soup and thought, "The rhubarb is tart this year." We homogenize so much in our world, to try and maintain that same flavor each year, each season. Wine is a happy exception, but our food should have their peaks and eddies, as well. Strawberries, grapefruit, even our meat should have flavor that varies from season to season, place to place, year to year.

Why do humans prefer mediocre food just because it is unsurprising? Don't we realize that delight is found at the moment of discovery?

1 comment:

Dave said...

I have only recently (well not so much recently as it was last fall, but compared to how long I have been alive that is recently) discovered Rhubarb. My family has always grown it in the back yard because my mom and grandmother love rhubarb pie. I have been resistant to try it because (and this is the only reason I can think of) it looked a bit too much like raw celery, which I have a serous aversion to. but around last thanksgiving my girlfriend (who also really likes it in pie form) decided to make some to get in good with my family and upon hearing my protests about not liking it she challenged me with "have you ever actually tried it?" fortunately this shamed me into actually eating a piece and I got to say I enjoyed it...so I am all for anything involving rhubarb now