Getting it together: rhubarb and potatoes
Rhubarb and potatoes.
Both commonly grown in Irish gardens but it would, to say the least of it, be a rare occurrence to find them cosying up together on an Irish dinner plate. Even though rhubarb is, technically, a vegetable, we’re far more likely to consign it to dessert, where copious amounts of sugar soften its natural sharpness.
But y’know what? If spuds can be used in desserts, then why not rhubarb for dinner? Certainly, if you read Mary Prior’s delightful book, Rhubarbaria, you won’t be left short of ideas for unusual rhubarb dishes, both savoury and sweet.
1. From another part of the world; foreign;
2. Intriguingly unusual or different; excitingly strange;
There will, no doubt, be much that fits those descriptions at this weekend’s Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire. A gloriously bubbling stew of music, dance, crafts and food from the far flung reaches of the globe. Even if food were your only interest – and who would I be to judge you for that – the festival’s International Food Traders would surely warrant a visit, as would the Global Village and the South Asian Mela Market.
All told, not a bad way to spend a few days. However, as luck and my projected geographical location for the weekend would have it, I will miss the entire thing. Clearly I will have to compensate by cooking something with a suitably international pedigree. Like ketchup. And if you suppose that such a ubiquitous sauce is too familiar to be exotic, you might have to revise your thinking when you meet the variety made from rhubarb.
Rhubarb ketchup - yes, such a thing exists
There I was, waiting patiently throughout the
spring extended winter for my rhubarb plants to make their entrance proper and bring forth stalks enough for me to cook with.
I had very particular plans for the first rhubarb of the season, in the shape of a recipe that may possibly explain why Martijn Kajuiter of the fabulous Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, has a Michelin star and I do not.
My somewhat over-enthusiastic rhubarb
I was a little perturbed however, when, with a dry spell and a little bit of heat, my rhubarb plants got ahead of themselves and started producing seed heads – a thing I have not seen rhubarb do before. Pretty though the seed heads may have been, they weren’t going to do rhubarb production any favours. They consequently met a swift end and the plants were left to get on with their normal stalk-producing business. Thankfully, there was enough of that happening to meet my stewy dessert purposes.