Rhubarb HistoryRhubarb, botanically-known as Rheum rhabarbarum, comes from a combination of the Greek word Rha for the Volga River, and the Latin word barbarum, for the region of the Rha River inhabited by non-Romans. The popular edible species, Rheum rhaponticum, originated most likely in Mongolia or Siberia. It was introduced to Europe by Italian botanist Prosper Alpinus in 1608 as a substitute for Chinese Rhubarb whose roots were used medicinally.
Ben Franklin is credited for bringing rhubarb seeds to the North American east coast in 1772, yet the red stalks did not catch on until the early 1800s, when it became a popular ingredient for pie.
In the late 1800's, rhubarb was brought to Alaska by the Russians and used as an effective counter-agent for scurvy. By the mid-1900s, its popularity was firmly entrenched in the New England states where it was used as pastry and pie fillings and also to make homemade wine.
The term rhubarb has also come to mean a "quarrel" or "heated discussion." This comes from theatrical direction, believe it or not. Stage and movie directors would have actors repeat "rhubarb" and various other phrases over and over to simulate background conversations or mutterings of a surly crowd.
More About Rhubarb and Rhubarb Recipes:• Rhubarb Storage and Selection
• Rhubarb Cooking Tips and Hints
• Rhubarb Varieties
• Rhubarb and Health
• Rhubarb History
• Rhubarb Recipes
Rhubarb Photo © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
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