This spring I noticed a lot of mentions of rhubarb in magazines, webzines and blogs. It seems to me that our pink friend is rather trendy this year, showing up in everything from a classy dessert for Clotilde to a Rhubarb and White Chocolate Lattice Tart in the May edition of Bon Apétit. These all sound lovely, but I'm a bit conservative about certain foods, including rhubarb. I started making it one way when I was about nine years old and so far I have seen no reason to change.
So what is this childhood classic? You stew about four to five cups of chopped fresh rhubarb with a dribble of water (just to keep them from sticking to the pan while they start to cook) and about 3/4 cup sugar. When it's all mushy and compote-like you taste again to see if there is enough sugar. You refrigerate overnight. The next morning, you put some bread in the toaster. In a grand adult revolutionary move, you use whole wheat instead of white. And then you spread a thick layer of cold rhubarb on your hot toast. It's wonderful. The toast is warm under your fingers, the rhubarb cold on the roof of your mouth. There is this sweet, warm soft layer of bread where the two meet. It's heavenly. It makes me feel like I'm nine all over again.
That said, I made a lot of rhubarb recently and my mother is not around to help me eat it up. So I will have it on its own as a dessert after lunch. I will pour it over unsweetened plain yogurt for a healthier breakfast. I might even try one of those elegant recipes, though I'm still not sure it will ever compete with the classic: rhubarb on toast. Mmmm.
For more information than you ever wanted on rhubarb, check out this site. They will tell you how to freeze it, how to grow it, where it comes from (Asia) and even give you the following charming limerick (from PeterW):
Rhubarb when raw is so tough
And its leaves contain poisonous stuff,
But when cleaned and de-soiled
Dipped in sugar and boiled
Then the stalks are quite tasty enough