I have never liked rhubarb. When I was a child, my mom fed it to me as a punishment for not cleaning my room. Actually, I think she grew some rhubarb in the garden and served it as a side dish, but given how bad it tasted, it felt like it was a punishment for not cleaning my room. I think it was the worst thing I had ever tasted up to that point in my life. As a result of this unpleasant experience, I promised I would never eat it again.
I managed to keep this promise for over 40 years. However, as I was making my List of 50 Things, I decided I would re-try a food I hadn’t eaten since childhood to see if maybe I actually liked it as an adult. This is how trying rhubarb came to be #11 on my List.
Did you know that rhubarb leaves are poisonous and can cause kidney failure? During World War I, people were advised to eat rhubarb leaves as a substitute for other vegetables that were scarce. Unfortunately, this resulted in several poisonings and deaths. I can now see why I’ve never liked rhubarb. Not surprisingly, rhubarb hit its peak popularity in the 19th century when sugar became readily available and affordable. After World War II, its popularity declined more rapidly (along with its sisters, turnip and rutabaga).
Well, wanting to give rhubarb a second chance, I asked my mom if she would prepare a strawberry rhubarb pie. I can’t recall how rhubarb was prepared when I tried it the first time, but this time around, I wanted to at least stack the odds in its favor. Rhubarb in a pie has got to taste better than a side dish, right?
Knowing I was trying rhubarb for the second time and hoping to like it, my mom scoured the internet until she found a recipe on Allrecipes.com that showed potential. Based on its score (4.6/5 from 992 votes), my mom proceeded to make the pie.
Even though my mom said she had a great recipe, I was still a little nervous to try it. As anxious as I was feeling, you would have thought I was preparing to eat worms.
When the day to try rhubarb again finally arrived, I stared at the pie for several minutes before actually taking a bite. I couldn’t help imagining what it would taste like. Would it be sour or sweet? Would I like it or hate it? Would I throw it up? I’m pretty sure I threw up the last time.
Grasping the fork firmly in my hand, I lifted the rhubarb pie to my mouth and took my first bite. Surprisingly, it was actually good. Now, I’m not sure if this was because of all of the strawberries and sugar mixed in with it, but I ate the entire piece of pie! Based on this experience, I’m proud to announce that I no longer hate rhubarb.
Although I didn’t throw up, I don’t know that I would ever purposely order it off a menu or whip up a rhubarb pie in my kitchen. But, if my kids’ rooms aren’t clean, I might have to serve them rhubarb.