18 April 2014

Rhubarb, Daffodils & Signs of Spring

Years ago, I remember reading a passage where an author (1), was recollecting how in his youth he was so impoverished that sugar was a luxury and living in outpost far away from other fruits, he used to scour the sandy inclines next to railroad tracks with his brother for rhubarb poking through a dusting of snow. So desperate for the promise of warm weather and the taste of something sweet, they’d break off the stems and suck the juice from the stalks as trains roared by them.

I can’t look at rhubarb without feeling spoiled and being grateful for all my choices. The passage was also powerful enough to inspire me enough to bite into a stalk. Just once and I forever add sugar or honey and make a quick jam out of spring’s first sweet offering.

Now that were inching closer to berry season, we have a lot more things to satisfy a sweet tooth. Especially, if your willing to expand how you define sweet, last week the PSU market had sweet peas, asparagus, calcots and of course honey.

Starvation Alley is also rethinking sweetness. Washington’s only certified organic cranberry grower sells cold-pressed, undiluted cranberry juice. Full of flavor, the juice stands on it’s own without the addition of sweeteners or juice blends. Try it out, it might be the very thing for Easter brunch or depending on how modern your Seder is, it could replace the parsley on the table.

Speaking of Passover and Easter, Pine Mountain, Pono and Sexton Ranches can hook you up with brisket. Simon the Salmon man will be on hand at PSU with “not very many fish,” but enough to get the early risers set up. The Smokery has fish kippered and prepared for the holiday table. And if your joining a meal as a guest, PSU has pretty flowers, chocolates and wine/cider/mead to share.

A spate of markets open in May, but until the calendar flips, PSU is the only venue from Portland Farmers Market. 8:30-2 on Saturdays. Come visit us, bring a guest and load up on rhubarb and everything else the Northwest spring has to offer.

(1) I’m reasonably sure this was from John Edgar Wideman’s Brothers & Keepers, but my memory is in decline enough that I can’t guarantee that’s where the passage rests, but can promise, that is a book worth reading.