Asa Sparks was the primary suspect in the recent rhubarb
uprising at the Southern Humorists' homestead. He was quoted by the
media as saying:
"Don't get me wrong. I don't even want a single bite!"
"About once a month or so a rhubarb concoction is listed on
the menu. So far, there has always been a substitution for this
communist plant sent from the Volga River to poison America. Since
it is a Yankee plant that can grow in only the northern tier of
states, it is seldom seen in the South - even in exclusive
"The first (and last) time I tasted rhubarb was in 1960 when
it ruined a wonderful meal of live lobster flown in from Maine.
Well, they weren't alive when we ate them. The dessert was a rhubarb
pie. With the first bite, I had to grab both sides of my chair and
bear down to suppress the gag reflex. Being a guest I felt I had to
eat it all. Bite, grab, gag, bite, grab, gag."
"Just as I forced down the last bite, the hostess noticed
the flushing of my face and copious glow from my forehead running
down my cheeks."
"’Oh, you didn't have to eat that.’ Now, she told
"Big surprise! The geniuses in Oregon don't realize that
Washington and Oregon produce 75% of the commercial rhubarb in the
USA. So, they keep ordering all 400 facilities to serve an
rhubarb supporter, Emery Campbell, thumbed through his recipe book
and thoughtfully presented his viewpoint about the controversial
"It seems to me that you are unjustly maligning rhubarb.
And, furthermore, the supermarkets where I live in Lawrenceville,
GA, always stock rhubarb in season."
"As for eating rhubarb, it depends on how you prepare it.
Here is a recipe for rhubarb crisp, a dish that tastes like pure
ambrosia. Try it. I guarantee you will love it."
8 large stalks rhubarb (at least 2 lbs.) cut into ½ inch pieces
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup flour
1 tbs unsalted butter
Oatmeal topping (recipe follows)
Soak rhubarb in ¾ cup sugar for one hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Turn rhubarb into a large bowl and
add remaining sugar. Mix well. Add flour and mix again. If mixture
remains too soupy, add flour to thicken.
Butter a 2 1/2-quart gratin dish and pour in rhubarb mixture.
Sprinkle with topping.
Place dish in middle rack of oven and bake for one hour, until
rhubarb is tender, juices are bubbling, and topping is crisp.
¾ cup all-purpose flour
8 tbs (one stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbs ground cinnamon
¾ cup rolled oats
½ cup dark brown sugar
In a food processor combine flour, butter, and cinnamon. Pulse until
large crumbs form, about 20 seconds. (If you don’t have a food
processor, rub butter into flour and cinnamon until large crumbs
form). Pour into a bowl and add oatmeal and sugar. Crumble with
fingers until well combined.
Thomas Lynn, denied any involvement with rhubarb, and called
in his comments via cell phone.
"The only rhubarb I know in Lawrenceville is that country DJ
on eagle 105.7. As for pies, I prefer cherry, or sweet tater."
The recipe for rhubarb crisp sounded extremely risky to Sheila
Moss, who is so naive she can’t even spell it much less understand
Could it possibly be better than pecan pie or coconut cream pie? It
definitely sounds dangerously Yankee to me. Wash out your mouth,
Emery! And with all the homegrown peaches you have in Georgia
Bayou Bill Fullerton climbed to the Southern Humorists’
soapbox and used a megaphone to enlighten the crowd on the history
"Not meaning to sound like a dweb, but Rhubarb is a native
plant of Asia and will grow in warm climates. Before sugar became
cheap, the main use for it in Europe was as a strong laxative."
"During one of the first confrontations between the Manchu's
and the British, the Chinese threatened to cut off shipment of
rhubarb. They reasoned the corked-up English, disparate for relief,
would be forced to yield."
"It didn't work. And to quote Dave Barry, ‘No, I'm not
making that up.’"
Sheila broke under the stress and publicly admitted she knew
nothing about rhubarb.
"Maybe I'm thinking of mincemeat pie. I never know what that
is either. But a laxative pie does not sound too yummy to me."
Bill Fullerton added a bit of valuable inside information
about the world of rhubarb from undisclosed sources.
"I’m on board with you when it comes to mincemeat. Best I
recall it contains raisins, grated apples, nutmeg, and who knows
what else? It has a taste sort of like fruit cake."
"Just to relieve your mind a bit, I did a little looking
around into the fascinatin' world of rhubarb. I wasn't aware of
this, but there are four varieties. One of them is mainly for eating
while a different variety focuses on the other end of the
displayed his fresh-from-the-oven rhubarb crisp while continuing his
attempts to explain its mystic properties.
"Rhubarb crisp is not a pie. It's more like, let's say
rhubarb pie filling, but not in pie crust. Instead it has a layer of
crispy cinnamon-flavored crumble over the top. It is deeeeelicious!"
Cathy Gregor, who later tested positive for rhubarb mania, was
unable to control herself and snatched up the rhubarb crisp and ate
the whole thing.
"Rhubarb is in my garden and it is delicious, the first
cutting of the stalks are the sweetest and the best, I have dozens
of recipes for it and by the way, thanks for another recipe
Without sufficient cause to hold him after Cathy ate the
evidence, Asa is expected to be released soon. However, he issued a
final warning revealing the dangers of rhubarb hysteria.
"Kroger's must have learned of my rhubarb crisis and
recruited about ten spears to hide behind the Boy Choy. I feel like
they are stalking me."
Emery, learning that Kroger’s was now dealing in rhubarb,
pulled out his trusty recipe book again and made Oatmeal Crisp out
of the entire produce section at Kroger’s.
Funny, it tasted just like mincemeat.
© Southern Humorists
Contributors: Emery Campbell, Bill Fullerton,
Cathy Gregor, Sheila Moss, Asa Sparks and Thomas Lynn (who wishes to
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COMING NEXT: Rhubarb Deficiency Syndrome and