Rhubarb: a vegetable and a fruit!
Rhubarb isn’t a fruit, botanically speaking, but is in fact an herbaceous plant belonging to the Polygonaceae family… and is therefore a vegetable! Be wary and only eat the stem since the leaves are toxic. There are today about 20 varieties of rhubarb, which originated in different Eastern countries: China, Tibet, Afghanistan, Syria, Russia, Mongolia… Cultivated and consumed in Europe from the 16th Century on, it was first used in pharmacopeia before being eaten as a vegetable in the 18th Century, used by English cooks for making savory pies and soups. It was then exported to the Continent and finally utilized to make a dessert in Alsace in the 19th Century, as a filling in doughnuts. Gradually, it became a mainstay in egg custards, pies and jams, but continues to be used as a vegetable side dish with fish and meat in many culinary traditions in different countries.