At the beginning of the week, I submitted a first draft for the introduction of my cookbook. In it, I talk a little about my obsession and preoccupation with colors, and specifically, the colors of produce. Reading that gave my dad pause – he thinks that those words carry a negative connotation. He did, however, call me the next day to let me know that he’d heard a respected somebody on NPR also use the word obsession positively.
My life has always contained a string of obsessions and preoccupations, whether it’s over a new romance, the state of Montana, desert road trips, rock climbing, qualities of light, yoga, weird vegetables, or color. It’s just how I am: I love things, and I love them intensely. They preoccupy me.
So it was heartening last night to listen to Deborah Madison talk at Omnivore Books about her obsession with vegetables, vegetable families, and gardening, in reference to her astounding new book Vegetable Literacy. If my dad and I sent text messages to one another, I would have texted him immediately: Dad! People use the word obsession. It’s a good thing. (Although to his credit, I think he gets that now.)
Anyway, Deborah Madison was talking about the peculiar knotweed family, among them buckwheat, sorrel and rhubarb. Rhubarb is my current obsession. There’s so much to consider: who first figured out that this slender, rosy stalk, whose taste is bracingly tart, was edible? And how did this tart vegetable come to be adopted by the fruit family, once being called pie plant for its popularity in filling them, when it’s so intriguing as a savory thing?
This week I made some Rhubarb Almond Breakfast Cakes for Etsy, and while there is some sweetness to them, that tart flavor is preserved. It was kind of a revelation. I think that celebrating rhubarb’s tart flavor is really where it’s at where rhubarb is concerned. I see a lot of rhubarb preoccupation ahead. Find the recipe for the breakfast cakes here.
(And! Tomorrow is the last day to vote for The Year in Food in Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards under Best Cooking Blog! I’d be so thrilled if you cast a vote my way. THANK YOU!)