Food Therapy from 17 and Baking


Photo: whitneyinchicago/Flickr

I’m an adventurous eater. I’ve tried snails, raw milk, fermented tea. But I’ve never tried rhubarb.

I don’t really know what’s stopping me: its appearance, more reminiscent of a swiss chard stalk than a sweet fruit? Questions about whether it’s really a fruit at all? A certain skepticism that any pairing could improve upon a plain strawberry with sugar?

Elissa of 17 and Baking (now actually 19 and baking – a college sophomore!) shares my hesitation. “I can count the number of times I’ve eaten rhubarb on one hand,” she wrote. “I know it’s not an uncommon ingredient, but we don’t grow it, and my family generally passes it as overpriced in the grocery store.”

In a recent visit to Maine, however, Elissa made a strawberry and rhubarb crumble that demands immediate attention. The crumble is one of those old, beloved family recipes that call for insane amounts of butter and sugar – the kind of dessert people beg you to bring to family reunions.

That would have been enough to pique my interest, but there are two small details that, I think, made this crumble especially good. First, the rhubarb was as fresh as can be – straight from the garden, in fact. Second, the recipe doesn’t skimp on the “crumble” part of the dish – too often, this element is overlooked in favor of the showier fruit filling, but with oatmeal and the ingenious addition of toasted almonds, the caramel-y crust more than holds its own.

It’s not a surprise, then, that this crumble managed to get Elissa craving rhubarb – in a weird way, I’m craving it, too.