PETER RABBIT-ING THE RHUBARB
Please don’t hate me, but I’m that girl. No, not the one from Brewster with the ornery father and the boyfriend named Donald. I’m the one who emptied the rhubarb bin of its early season blush-pink stalks, leaving nary a stalk of sour behind. This sort of behavior is out of character because I tend to think about the next ‘me’ dashing down the produce aisle, desperately seeking pie plant. Peter Rabbit-ing the rhubarb will no doubt result in bad karma. My selfish actions may be akin to the fact that spring refuses to take hold. Maybe Mother Nature is still hunkered down in Boca Raton, waiting to make the trek north armed with warmer climes in her Samsonite carry-on, just in time for next week’s holidays. My morning trek to the bakery is still bitterly cold, the blazing convection ovens offering a warm haven. Notice the deliberate avoidance of the phrase safe haven. There’s not a safe thing to be said about the next 10 days prompting me to snatch the last of the rhubarb.
I am aware of the historical significance linking Passover with Easter, but this year’s confluence of Elijah and the Easter Bunny means nothing but trouble around the baker’s bench. Ample time is imperative in order to regroup from one holiday before crashing into the next. A peculiar sense of déjà vu washes over me; December boasted Hanukkah and Christmas neck and neck with each other. At least the December holidays shared the common denominator of flour. Next weekend however, will be infinitely more challenging as the flourless desserts battle it out with baskets of bunnies, a myriad of coconut macaroons and carrot cakes fighting the red velvets for cream cheese frosting. It’s dizzying to think about, so in anticipation, I will drown my sorrows in a rhubarb custard pie with flour in both the crust and the ginger crumble. No matzoh cake meal, no potato starch, thank you- that will have to wait until next week.
If Passover were a triathlon, it would feature macarooning, egg separating and egg white leavening. It also requires pretending that the absence of flour and bread and thin crust pizza doesn’t irritate you. After several days, the novelty indeed wears off. Some people dream about artisanal loaves of bread, waking up to find part of their pillow missing. Yet at the same time it allows a bit of martyr-play in my workplace. As the Passover soloist in an orchestra of Easter celebrants, it can be lonely in my (cue Pippin) corner-of-the-pie bench, nibbling on matzoh surrounded by flour-laden treats. No, no, don’t you worry about me.
The pie offerings for Easter have yet to be finalized because it is unclear whether or not rhubarb will be available. As one who has eaten her fair share of chocolate bunnies (preferably solid, too often hollow) I am aware that spring heralds the arrival of all manner of cloying sweets. Which leads to my belief that rhubarb in all its crimson/sour glory is the perfect foil to everything sugarcoated this holiday season. You can have your marshmallow bunnies and chicks attired in technicolor sugar crystals. Enjoy the gourmet Jelly Beans, the Coconut Cream Eggs and the Jellied Fruit Slices with the understanding they will pinpoint any cavity lying in wait.
When Elijah breezes through next week, I am hopeful that he will be armed with a case or two of what farmers call ‘Pie Plant’ aka rhubarb, and a few flats of strawberries. I would very much like to make up for my brazen act of rhubarb pilfering this week and offer strawberry/rhubarb pies to the masses. In the event Elijah doesn’t come through, I will be forced to choose an alternate spring-like filling for the pie shells. How fortunate that this baker will easily adapt to whatever fruit happens to come hoppin’ down the bunny trail. And when there’s a small uprising because the rhubarb is a no show? You won’t hear a peep out of me.
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Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm