I perpetually lost dares when I was younger upon which I was forced to eat raw rhubarb from the garden (I almost wrote acquiesced but back then high volume was next to godliness and there wasn't much I did without loud exuberance). As a coping mechanism, I developed a fondness for the almost unbearable tartness that still makes my scalp pucker when I come across the tender green and ruby stalks each Spring.
This morning, in her chapter "How To Comfort Sorrow", MFK Fisher recalls the humble War Cake, saying, "I am sure I could happily live forever without tasting it again. There are many things like that: you recall with astonishment and a kind of admiration some of the things eaten with sensual delight at eight or eighteen, that would be a gastronomical auto-de-fé [the public condemnation of heretics during the Spanish Inquisition] for you at twenty-eight or fifty. But that does not mean that you were wrong so long ago. War Cake says nothing to me now, but I know that it is an honest cake, and one loved by hungry children. And I'm not ashamed of having loved it...merely a little puzzled, and thankful that I am no longer eight."
White Wine and Vanilla Bean Roasted Rhubarb
1 pound of rhubarb (8 mighty stalks), chopped into 1" pieces
1/2 c sugar (simply for cleanliness of taste -- I'm much more an advocate for maple syrup)
1/2 c dry white wine or champagne
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out into the rhubarb (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Add all of the ingredients to an oven safe pan and roast uncovered until the rhubarb is very tender and splitting -- 30 minutes. Stir once or twice with a wooden spoon to ensure that the wine is permeating all of the rhubarb.
Eat hot or cold, by itself or atop pound cake, buttered toast, yogurt, vanilla ice cream or pudding.
Yields: never enough
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes (unattended)
Writing and Styling by Adria Lee | Photography by Amy Pennington