Peak Season: Rhubarb

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In the 1940s, U.S. customs ruled that due to its prevalence in dessert dishes, rhubarb is a fruit. That’s baloney—if the leaves weren’t toxic when consumed in mass quantities (yeah, watch out for that), we’d call it a green. Recently chefs have been dabbling in savory uses for the celery-like shoot, but it’s true that we most often enjoy the fuchsia-colored stalks sliced up with strawberries beneath a pastry shell or spiked with ginger in a jar of preserves. The acidic, stringy flesh softens into a soothing sour mash when mixed with sugar and cooked. The plant prefers frigid temperatures, so even in season it’s not easy to find around Southern California. With diligence you’ll spot a bundle sticking out from market stands right about now.  
 
Photograph courtesy emilymiranda.com