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From its home in the northern climes of Asia, rhubarb first came to Europe in classical times as a dried root with medicinal qualities. And it was as medicine that it was initially proposed to a British public. ‘It purifieth the bloud and make yong wenches look faire and cherry-like,’ says Gerard in his Herbal in 1597. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the fruit or vegetable (its true nature was a matter for a lawsuit in America some years ago.) was introduced to English tables. Mary Prior has undertaken an extensive search through earlier literature and presents here a commented repertoire of every sort of rhubarb recipe. Whether with meat or fish, vegetables, as a pudding in its own right, as a jam or in chutney: all sorts of bright ideas are here explained. Given that it is one of the few plants that every gardener can manage to harvest – slug-proof, drought-proof, flood-proof, the lot – that delectable tartness and fresh, roseate pink can ornament the tables of rich man and poor. And, strange to be said, there is nothing more English than rhubarb.