Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Ask Boss Warlock: Why Do Midwesterners Like Rhubarb So Much?

 How to Grow and Care for Rhubarb Plants | Gardener's Path


Dear Boss Warlock:

Rhubarb is the (nominally) edible stem of a poisonous leaf. In fact, it's so tart that it can only be rendered even marginally palatable by the addition of truly toxic amounts of sugar.

Not to mention the fact that its incredibly high oxalic acid content destroys tooth enamel.

So what's all the excitement about?

Why do Midwesterners love rhubarb so much?

Clueless in Calistoga


Dear Clue:

I'm afraid that you've been misinformed, my friend. Rhubarb isn't a food, it's a survival strategy.

Midwesterners look forward to rhubarb. Midwesterners gorge on rhubarb. In fact (when we can) Midwesterners freeze rhubarb so that we'll have plenty to eat even when it's out of season.

But none of that means that we actually like rhubarb.

Clearly, Clue, you have never lived through one of our long Midwestern winters. If you had, you would understand that by the time that we've seen one out, we are so starved for something—anything—fresh to eat that we will happily eat even something so nasty as rhubarb.

In short, Clue, Midwesterners don't eat rhubarb because we like rhubarb.

We eat rhubarb because, at this time of year, there's nothing else to eat.

Boss Warlock



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Write him c/o the Paganistan Blog.






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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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