On my way to my sister Abby’s house, I stopped at a farmstand near where Carol and I used to live in Concord. I bought some asparagus to bring to Abby and Jim — cut that day, most of the stalks about as thin as a pencil and so tender you could eat it raw. The locally-grown produce is really starting to come in now: traditional spring vegetables like rhubarb, peas, strawberries, and asparagus (Concord used to be famous for its strawberries and asparagus); cool-weather vegetables like broccoli, kohlrabi, and bok choy; and the first of the summer squashes, zucchini, patty-pan, and yellow squash.
I not only bought asparagus for Abby and Jim, I also bought broccoli, zucchini, bok choy, and about five pounds of rhubarb. Rhubarb has become my favorite spring food. I like to cook up a pound of rhubarb with maybe a teaspoon or two of honey, just enough to thicken up the sauce but not enough to take the edge off the sourness of it.
I told my dad how I make rhubarb, and he made a little sour expression with his mouth. You have to understand that dad grew up on Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, with no lack of sugar. Once when he went to my mother’s house for dinner when they were still getting to know one another (the way she told it, it was the first time he went to her house to meet her family), mom cooked up some rhubarb with only a hint of sugar. She said that when she watched him eat it, she could tell is was too tart for him and she knew he must really love her when he ate it all. So when I told dad how I like my rhubarb, he screwed up his mouth a little, then smiled and said, “You take after your mother.”
“I guess I do,” I said, at least as far as rhubarb is concerned.