Standing in the small english kitchen overlooking the fields and garden, with sun streaming comfortingly through the window. I’m about 4, standing with my grandma who has just reached into her pantry to get the bowl of sugar. The freshly cut ruby red stalks of rhubarb we just took from the ancient plant that resides at the end of the cottage garden, are awaiting their purpose on the bench.
The rhubarb is simply dipped into the sugar and eaten.It was a revelation to me even at 4 and it was a moment with my grandma I would never forget.
And it is this moment, this precise moment, the first in my memory of the magic of food and flavour. It is with me for life and is vividly re awoken every time I see a beautiful bunch of ruby red rhubarb. The kitchen light, the flavour, the colour and my grandmas movements, voice and soft gentle hands all rush to the forefront of my mind.
One of the reasons I love food so much is the amazing ability it has to inspire nostalgia. It can become an instant teleport into the past, to places, to people and to moments that are precious and guarded for life.
Rhubarb is a food that holds incredible nostalgia for me. It’s one of the reasons it’s included into my all time favourite foods. I love the flavour of rhubarb, but I love the memories more, those feelings and sounds and the shivers of a time that I hold forever in my heart, that all come flooding back instantly when I see a shiny bunch patiently waiting for me.
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup water
300gm rhubarb cut into 2-3cm lengths
Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and place over a medium high heat.
Bring to the boil, then reduce to a slow simmer.
Simmer for 30-40mins or until the rhubarb has collapsed.
Remove from the heat and allow to steep whilst the mix cools.
Once cooled, strain through a fine sieve.
The syrup will keep in the fridge for about a month
Keep the pulp that’s left over. It’s delicious topped on a good quality yoghurt sprinkled with pistachio. Or topping you breakfast oatmeal/porridge. Bake a banana bread and top the batter with the rhubarb just before baking.
The link between nostalgia and food is pretty amazing. I have a key foods that send my mind vividly to the past, pomegranates are another. What are yours? or how is your favourite way to eat rhubarb?