Oof! I don’t know what happened there, but one day it was May, and then suddenly it was July. What happened to June? I’ve gone straight from early rhubarb to elderflowers, without so much as a whiff of wild garlic and hardly an asparagus spear to be seen. My sister is becoming really quite concerned that I don’t seem to have eaten in a month. (I’m secretly hoping that she’ll take pity on me and come and live in our flat when her lease is up, and make me lots of her delicious food to fatten me back up).
In reality, though, I have been eating – mostly ice cream, I admit, but I have been eating – I just haven’t been writing any of it down. I blame John, who very unreasonably had a birthday only a week before our old housemate returned from 18 months on the other side of the world for four very short days before jetting off to Finland, only a week before my godfather flew across for a visit from Australia (although, in his case, not with a new Finnish girlfriend).
Obviously, it’s been a very hard month.
Normally, I do try not to give people the impression that I am some kind of fruit-obsessed dipsomaniac. I realise that posting a recipe for rhubarb schnapps right after one for a blood orange gin cocktail will probably not help my case very much, but if I wait a suitable period of time before I tell you about the schnapps it will be too late for you to make some too, and that would not do.
You see, the recipe calls for early pink rhubarb, and there is only so much ‘early’ (how is it March already? What happened?) left in the year. I suppose you could make this with ordinary, bog-standard rhubarb, but it would not glow nearly as alluringly sat on the kitchen windowsill: this is by far the prettiest drink in my house, even in a booze cupboard which includes violet liqueur. I can give it no higher recommendation. Well, apart from the fact that it’s also quite delicious – but look at it! do you even care what it tastes like?
Is it rhubarb season yet? I have been asking myself this for almost three months now, ever since I stumbled across the most irresistible-sounding recipe for rhubarb and pink grapefruit jam, and yet the greengrocer’s shelves have remained stubbornly bare of muddy pink stems. To add insult to injury, up in Yorkshire there seemed to be an abundance of the most gorgeously bright, tiny stalks. Perhaps none of them were allowed out of the county? The English tourist board can’t have had much to work with recently except bribery, I suppose.
Luckily, a trip to the greengrocer last weekend proved much more… I hesitate to say fruitful, but that’s exactly what it was (and besides, I want to). I popped out for some eggs, and came back laden with grapefruits the size of an infant’s head, yet more blood oranges, and – finally! – armfuls of rhubarb. Also a bunch of the most gorgeous irises, but that doesn’t fit in so well with my fruitful theme, so we won’t talk about those any more here.
I had been hoping to replicate a tiny rhubarb jelly that John ordered in a restaurant this time last year – delicately, translucently pink, beautifully perfumed, and most of all rhubarby, but with none of the mouth-scouring astringency that I’d previously associated with the fruit – and so as soon as I saw a recipe for rhubarb jam, there was no chance I’d be able to resist. I have never prided myself on my strength of will, after all.