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. It is also appreciated for its healthiness, since it helps lower cholesterol and is high in fiber content, which helps in digestion.