History of Food

History of Food

Saturday, June 9, 2012

National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day - June 9

So many people combine Strawberries and Rhubarb.  While it is extremely popular causing Rhubarb to also be called the "pie plant” there are two aspects I am compelled to disclose:

1)  I do not like Rhubarb (but I try to write impartially about topics)

2)  Rhubarb is actually a vegetable.  Yes, it is true! This makes Strawberry Rhubarb Pie one of the rare (tasty) pies that combine fruits and vegetables.

Rhubarb is a very old plant. Rhubarb, botanically-known as Rheum rhabarbarum, comes from a combination of the Greek word Rha for the Volga River, and the Latin word barbarum, for the region of the Rha River inhabited by non-Romans. The popular edible species, Rheum rhaponticum, originated most likely in Mongolia or Siberia. It was introduced to Europe by Italian botanist Prosper Alpinus in 1608 as a substitute for Chinese Rhubarb whose roots were used medicinally.

The Italian botanist Prosper Alpinus introduced the more popular edible species to Europe in 1608. People did not recognize it as a food plant and cultivate it as such until 1750 in Germany.  Ben Franklin is credited for bringing rhubarb seeds to the North American east coast in 1772. Europeans also introduced rhubarb first to the New England region in the 1820s where it became a popular ingredient for pastry and pie fillings. Sometime in the nineteenth century it made its way south and became very popular among southerners. This sweet and tangy treat was first made popular during the early 1800's, about 30 years after Benjamin Franklin introduced rhubarb, nicknamed "pieplant," to the East Coast.  In the late 1800's, rhubarb was brought to Alaska by the Russians and used as an effective counter-agent for scurvy. By the mid-1900s, its popularity was firmly entrenched in the New England states where it was used as pastry and pie fillings and also to make homemade wine. 
Few people realize that rhubarb is actually a vegetable, but with a little sugar, it pairs perfectly with strawberries, which are in season and ready for picking.  Rhubarb pie is a pie which is particularly popular in those areas where the rhubarb plant is commonly cultivated, including Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the New England and Upper Midwestern regions of the United States. Besides diced rhubarb, it almost always contains a large amount of sugar to balance the intense tartness of the plant. Rhubarb pie is often eaten together with ice cream. In Canada and the United States, strawberry rhubarb pie is a popular late-spring pie, generally combining the first strawberries of the season with the last of the rhubarb. 

June 9 is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day.  What better way to celebrate the onset of summer than to make this sweet and tangy treat.  Don't worry...you don't have to save any for me...just enjoy....

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