“Rhubarb Pie, Rhubarb Pie, Gotta have some before I die” , preferably sung by John Fogarty. Some other artists have sung this song but John’s is the best. Now I don’t have to have some before I die as I have had plenty. However, I do need more prior to that happening. It is an ironclad tradition in our home that The Blonde in the House makes me a rhubarb pie for my birthday. Cakes are a dime a dozen on birthdays, but a rhubarb pie is a singular event that must be savored. Not too many folks have that pleasure in life, but those of us who do are among the most favored. I would caution anyone who wants to start the tradition that we are talking “Rhubarb” here. Contrary to the belief of some there are no strawberries connected with this pie.
I am not certain how strawberries got mixed in the discussion in the first place. Probably started by some strawberry farmers who flooded the media with this base canard. People can easily be twisted from the true path as any good marketing person can tell you. Even Marie Callender who sells pies has fallen for this misleading fact. However, take my word for it in this case. If you have some strawberries laying around, it is acceptable to make some proper biscuits, and then cover them with the berries and whipped cream. The berries must be kept apart by a significant distance from any dish with rhubarb so that none accidently fall in the wrong dish.
The crust of this savory pie should be made from scratch. Now I recognize that the modern world is different and some folks resort to purchasing a pie crust at the local supermarket. There are certain problems with that. First of all, you have no idea where the crust was made. In today’s world it could come frozen from Wuhan, China. OK, it probably didn’t but can anyone be certain. Aside from its source, there are some inherent problems with store bought pie crusts. A rhubarb pie naturally has a top crust. I have been informed by great cooks that it
Is difficult to buy a crust that will fit appropriately on the top. Certainly, such a pie should look its best. Thus, another knock on supermarket pie crusts!
I will now get to the two biggest issues. First of all, no matter where someone gets a prepared pie crust, it is not going to taste as good as a homemade pie crust. Then there is the issue that a crust created in some unknown place is made to just fit in the pie dish with no excess left over (not to mention fitting properly on the top.) That then precludes preparing the complete presentation of the pie for the birthday. When The Blonde makes her crust, it includes some excess. The excess is cut into strips, buttered, sugared and cinnamon is placed thereon. The strips then are rolled up and baked. They are known as snails and are an appetizer for the pies. They are best Unfortunately, now comes the part where a tragedy is coming to the fore. The proper rhubarb pie came into the family history as we grew up in Pennsylvania where rhubarb grows like weeds. It was very easy for my mother to make such a pie. Even after The Blonde and I were married we lived in Northern states where it was easy to obtain. Florida, however, is a different matter. We have lived in Florida since 1990, and have always been able to find some. Everywhere we have looked this year we have drawn a blank. My birthday is June 29 so we have a small amount of time to find some. Things are not looking good! If we can’t find some, I just may not have a birthday this year – or at least until such a date as we do find the elusive ingredient.
Geez, what a predicament!
Barry Evans is a columnist for Villages-News.com