Yes, it is possible that a single word represents a vegetable classified as a fruit and a heated dispute or controversy. Such is the perversity of language. Or is that people? It has been reported that in 1947 the USDA classified rhubarb as a fruit to avoid the associated tariffs. Its definition as a dispute may have initiated its use in stage and screen crowd scenes. Apparently, milling extras are instructed to murmur the rumbling word repetitively to denote a riotous, or at least angry, mobs. Funny idea.
Rhubarb, a member of the buckwheat family, is from the northern climes of Asia, most likely Siberia. Not surprisingly then, it is a cold hardy plant. It contains high concentrations of vitamins A and C. It has a distinctively tart flavor and is frequently combined with sugar or sweet fruits, such as strawberries or raspberries, in bakery treats. Some say that Benjamin Franklin is responsible for introducing rhubarb to the United States in 1772, though others credit a John Bartram of Pennsylvania in the 1730s. Who cares? It’s here and now is the time for its harvest and enjoyment.
Until recently, pies and pastries have dominated our use of rhubarb. But we’re not a people content to confine ourselves. Cooks have been experimenting and have developed some extraordinary dishes and condiments. Take a look at our website for previously rhubarb recipes. Today we’re offering Kay Carroll’s snappy adaptation of Rhubarb Bacon Jam which is spectacular with ricotta on toasted slices of French bread. It is terrific slathered over grilled pork chops. Or skip the mustard and spread a layer inside a grilled cheese sandwich. Alternatively, you can just sit down with a jar and a spoon.