At our school ‘for young ladies and missionary daughters’ (I never understood that phrase – what were they implying about the morality of missionaries’ daughters?), they used to make us eat rhubarb pie. Naturally, this was a grey mass of sour, fibrous chunks capped by an indigestible bonnet of sugar-free concrete, referred to as pastry. This was only rivalled in horror by the ‘curry’, a slurry of mince dyed green and served with dessicated coconut to add that exotic touch. At six, I added my own exotic touch by flatly refusing to eat any of it and being banished to ‘top table’ where I could be monitored by the beady eye of the head.
The spectre of the curry still looms large, but I think I’ve finally laid my fear of rhubarb to rest by growing my own. I bunged a terracotta pot over the top of it in February and these gorgeous alien-like shoots came up, with strangely beautiful yellow crepe leaves and stalks the most perfect delicate pink. With a dash of water, sprinkled with a little sugar and left on a low heat till they go mushy, and, obviously served with copious double cream, it is quite simply heaven in a bowl. Or at least it was. It’s time to put away the forcing pot now and leave the poor plant to recover its strength for the summer. A sad day.