Friday, June 11, 2010

The Rhubarb Man

Carol Anne of Five O'Clock Somewhere has challenged us to describe a dinner we would prepare for fellow waterbloggers on a fantasy food tour. What meal would I prepare for these friends after a long day Laser sailing on the waters of Narragansett Bay with me?

Carol Anne says it has to be...

  • easy - because I would be too tired from sailing to spend much effort on it
  • yummy
  • prepared on or near the water.


I think I'm going to change the rules a little.

  1. The meal will be prepared close to the water and eaten in sight of it, because we are lucky enough to live in a house high above the shores of Mount Hope Bay with superb views across the bay to Bristol and Warren.
  2. The meal will definitely be yummy because Tillerwoman is an excellent cook, and I am smart enough to let her do most of the cooking in our household. I am sometimes allowed to do simple preparation chores like peeling shrimp or making guacamole but she is definitely in charge in the kitchen.
  3. Which gives me an opportunity to circumvent our stern taskmaster's first rule. Tillerwoman doesn't sail but loves to cook. I don't cook but love to sail. So she will be doing most of the work to prepare the meal and as she won't be tired from sailing, it doesn't have to be all that easy.

But what to serve? Something traditionally English, I think. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding perhaps? Or more likely a slight variation on that theme, Beef Wellington, beef tenderloin coated with pâté and duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. Some would argue this is really French, it is only filet de bœuf en croûte after all, but the name Wellington is English enough.

The beef would be accompanied by fresh vegetables from Tillerwoman's garden... peas, beans, carrots, onions... whatever is in season. While the beef is cooking our guests would enjoy cocktails on our deck overlooking the bay and we would relive the events of the Laser racing at the day's regatta...

Who knew that O Docker would be so fast upwind? What about that move that Baydog pulled at the start of the third race? Where did JP learn to do roll tacks like that? Did you see Carol Anne ride those waves? Did anyone get a photo of Bonnie's hat?

And how about that spectacular death roll that Joe Rouse performed the only time he was leading a race? Someone got it on video? It's on YouTube? Great!

After the main course we would have dessert of Rhubarb Crumble. The rhubarb would also be fresh from Tillerwoman's garden. Her rhubarb crumble is the most delicious pudding I have ever tasted and I'm sure she's not going to release her recipe to a bunch of bloggers, so don't ask. It's marvellous with heavy cream, and even better with ice cream.

Rhubarb reminds me of growing up in England. Everyone in our family had a rhubarb patch at the back of the garden. I guess it grows well in a cold, damp climate... and it's quite rampant in our Rhode Island garden too.

I only discovered how much rhubarb is part of my heritage a few days ago. My mother is almost 90 years old and now lives in a care home in Oxfordshire in England near where my sister lives. Her physical health is in reasonable shape for her age but she is definitely losing her short-term memory. However, her long-term memory is excellent. I phone her several times a week and she usually can't recall who has visited her this week or what she had for lunch. But she will retell stories from the 1930's and 1940's which she remembers vividly.

I mentioned the other day that we have a rhubarb patch in our garden here and she excitedly told me that her father, my grandfather, who died when I was only a few years old and of whom I only have the faintest memory, was known in their neighborhood as... "The Rhubarb Man." Apparently it was because he grew rhubarb in such vast quantities that he was always giving it away to all his neighbors.

So now I know that rhubarb is in my blood. I am The Rhubarb Man.



O Docker said...

Oh great, another failure in my life.

I will never be known as The Basil Man.

Baydog said...

Was my stunt at the start of the third race a port tack start out of nowhere? I've always dreamed of pulling one of them off but never had the guts to do it.

Mushroom duxelle and pate are almost redundant in the decadence context. Too much of a good thing is even better.

My mom made Strawberry-rhubarb pie often, but there was always that caveat regarding the toxicity of rhubarb leaves. I thought we were being daring. Should we eat Japanese blowfish instead?

my2fish said...

my mom always used to make a rhubarb custard pie - it was amazing. we also used to snack on the raw rhubarb snacks from the garden growing up.

funny rhubarb story: my dad told me that last summer, my mom's mom (my maternal grandmother) passed down to my parents a batch of rhubarb plants that used to be her mother's (so my great-grandmother), and I think even one more generation beyond that, maybe. I think my dad said there were 7 or 8 plants, so there would be 1 to pass on to each of his 7 kids. so these 3rd or 4th generation rhubarb plants were placed carefully in his garden last summer/fall. and, then this spring, my dad promptly forgot he had planted them there, and tilled them all completely under!

luckily, some of the bits and pieces did sprout into new plants scattered across the garden.

cheers, my2fish

Carol Anne said...

Ah, I just love rhubarb. When I was 10 or so, my family took an extended trip to Europe, starting in England. At the end of my very first meal in England, there was a fantastic rhubarb tart, and from that point on I was hooked.

My parents later tried to grow some in their garden, and even though they chose the coolest, dampest corner, we discovered that rhubarb does not grow in New Mexico. Oh, well.

Andrew said...

Mmm. Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb.
Makes a good cheesecake too if you're looking to cement UK/US relations.

Baydog said...

It's a good thing that my contextual redundancy is decadent, or better. What's not to like about liver and fungus? Or beaches and dunes?

Baydog said...

Also a good thing when nobody makes fun of you for spelling "crossed" and "pristine" incorrectly. Ugh.

bonnie said...

We have a nice little greenmarket in my neighborhood on Sunday mornings. There's a good range of food for sale there now but this post reminds me of the very first report I got when they first started up a few years back. A friend of mine was really excited went on one of the first weeks.

Her report? "All they had was rhubard".

Cyrille V. said...

Rhubarb crumble with heavy cream! Yumm! Did you mean double cream? Double cream is England's most important contribution to the human civilization, or so I believe.

Tillerman said...

Cyrille, "double" cream is Real English for what Americans call "heavy" cream. Except it's even better of course because it's English.

Sorry to confuse you. After 20 years in America I sometimes lapse into their quaint dialect without thinking.

Frankie said...

A bit late on the scene as usual! My contribution to the waterfood contest is on my blog. (how do you insert a blue link in a comment? I don't see the application)

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