Friday, May 29, 2015


I remembered the other food story I was going to tell! My visiting teacher made rhubarb crisp for us.

Andrew, as you probably guessed, turned up his nose at this.

"Do people really eat rhubarb?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. "It's good. It's super sour. And this stuff has strawberries with it, too!"

"You can't just combine anything with strawberries and call it good," Andrew said.

He might have had a point. Just the day before Rachel had bitten the top off a grape tomato, sucked the guts out, stuffed it with a plump blueberry and ate it.

"Well, that ruined that blueberry," she declared.

You really can't just combine anything with blueberries and call it good. The same holds true for strawberries and just about anything delicious.

"But rhubarb and strawberries is good," I assured him. "It's like lemon and strawberry. It just works."

He wouldn't try it so I did the only thing left to do: I ate his piece for him.

We were still talking about rhubarb at bedtime (it was light-hearted and probably falls under the category of "fake fighting" that our children insist we do).

"What even is rhubarb?" Andrew asked.

"I think it's a vegetable," I said as he started to look it up.

"That's the whole problem with it!" he ranted. "You don't put vegetables and fruit together in a pie! See? It says it's like celery. Celery pie. Yum, yum."

"Like celery's texture," I pointed out. "Not flavour. It's really quite good, though I think the leaves are poisonous."

"Well now I've got to try it," he said mawkishly mocking me. "It's delicious. It might kill you, but it's delicious."

"We used to eat it at the farm," I said. "Grandma Torrie always grew some."

"Listen to this," Andrew said. "'In former days, a common and affordable sweet for children in parts of the UK and Sweden was a tender stick of rhubarb, dipped in sugar. It is still eaten this way in western Finland and Norway, Iceland and some other parts of the world.' Here, children. This plant is impossible to eat plain because it's too sour and if you eat the wrong part, you'll die. Eat up!"

"Yeah, that's what I was saying. My cousins and I used to do that," I said. "'Former days' is my childhood, I guess, and 'other parts of the world' is my aunt's farm..."

"You really ate rhubarb dipped in sugar? What? Why? Why would you do that?"

"It's sweet and sour and cold and...I don't know. It's not like it's weird."

"It's weird," Andrew insisted.

What's weird is that in 1947 "a New York court decided...that since [rhubarb] was used in the United States as a fruit, it counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction on imported rhubarb tariffs, as tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits."

So it's a vegetable masquerading as a fruit to avoid higher vegetable taxes.

Andrew wanted to know if pecans could also be considered a fruit because pecan pie.

I wondered how tomatoes—a fruit commonly masquerading as a vegetable—were taxed.

My answer was easy to find: they are fruit taxed as a vegetable. I'm not sure about the answer to Andrew's question...but I do have to say that laws are funny, funny things.


  1. My parents always grew rhuarb on our farm, too. It was one of my favorite snacks. I usually ate mine plain while everyone else dipped theirs in sugar. We were allowed to snack on rhubarb whenever we wanted to; also tomatoes. Pretty much anything in the garden! Yum.

  2. So my family loves rhubarb. I like it the way j's grandma makes it. She cooks it a long time so it loses the celery texture, adds berries and sugar and then puts it on the crust...yum! It reminds me of lemon bars.