I didn’t grow up knowing rhubarb. I imagine that it simply was not something my family new anything about. I remember reading about rhubarb in my teens and thinking, “Oh, why would one bother eating something so tart and stringy? Meh.” I wasn’t really intrigued, the way I was with artichokes or sushi or Indian food, none with which my family was familiar either.
As a young adult I ventured out to Ontario to complete a year-long internship program in a small town. It wasn’t really a small town, but being a “big city gal,” I felt stifled in this small city. I truly believe, though, that everywhere you go, there is something charming and lovely that you come across. It was hard to find this something charming. The house I rented was lovely–about 90 years old with stained glass windows. And the southern Ontario thunderstorms were grand. But I was still waiting for something to really charm me.
Then one day in the cafeteria I spotted little dishes of rosy rhubarb crumble. And I was intrigued. I bought a dish with my hard-earned, measly stipend and tucked in. My tastebuds jolted with the tart, herbal aroma of the rhubarb, cut gently with chunks of sweet apple and soothed by the crumbly brown sugar topping. I was hooked. How could I have missed out on this all my life?
I’m making up for lost time now. Rhubarb is one of the first signs of Spring and hails the promise of longer, warmer days and a plentiful growing season. I scoop up great armfuls at the market and at our community garden and transform it into culinary delights to enjoy now and later in the year.
Sometimes later acquaintances make for lifelong friends.