Madame Bovary buys Rhubarb for an Easter Dessert…..

A sunny day, a ditsy dress and one glimpse of some pink rhubarb stems in my local store sees me turn into a modern day Emma Bovary in less than 5 seconds. Just as Monsieur L’Heureux provided temptation, with his Parisian luxuries, which the ill- fated heroine, Emma, could not resist, the sight of these tender, tart stems sees me wanting rhubarb as if it had just been featured in Vogue magazine!

This is special rhubarb on the shelf; delicate, fragrant and available earlier than the varieties in my Kitchen Garden, because it has been forced into early growth.

Forced rhubarb starts arriving in the shops from January onwards and it is a long and costly process to produce these delicate shoots. The rhubarb crowns are grown in the fields for two years then carried gently, into dark, windowless sheds in around November, after the first frosts. The lack of light draws up the stems taking energy from the roots, creating a tender crop with a sweet flavour which is harvested by candlelight so that the stems do not turn green.

Today, spring is in the air and I want to make something special with Rhubarb for Easter, so I greedily place 3 slender bunches in my basket… I pass the dairy counter and see a pot of custard so luscious and luxuriously tempting that I almost tear open the pot there and then and drink it from the carton! Emma Bovary had custard for her wedding feast, “Yellow custard in great dishes, which would undulate at the slightest jog of the table, displayed on its smooth surface the initials of the wedded pair in arabesques of candied peel.”  This custard is a sign! So I buy it and hurry to my car. The excitement of the rhubarb and the custard has made me feel quite heady and I need to get back to the soothing shade of the kitchen. This sun has gone to my head!

Driving home, my thoughts are still with poor Emma and the disappointment of being married to Charles whose “conversation was as commonplace as a street pavement”, no wonder she needed the clothes and plenty of custard!

I am going to make a dessert from the two ingredients I have bought; a dish with the classic combination of Rhubarb, scented and sweetened with Sweet Cicely and with custard fragrant with vanilla.

Perfectly easy to make and so pretty to serve; a sweet fancy to cheer our day and blow away the cobwebs of our “bourgeois lives”. And fit for an Easter Feast.

 For the recipe for Rhubarb and Custard Pots, please click here.


24 thoughts on “Madame Bovary buys Rhubarb for an Easter Dessert…..

  1. Ahhh…rhubarb ! ! ! Wonderful rhubarb…I have been enjoying loads and, at times, with lovely custard. I am planning to make rhubarb jelly which will be delicious.
    I had forgotten how delicious jellies can be, and have just made à refreshing lime jelly with little, sweet, white grapes floatîng in its soft sparkling citron-ness.(Best for cooling refreshment on a warm summer’s day)

    • Thank you for visiting my blog.
      Your jellies sound so lovely with their jewel-like colours. The sun is shining today, so a perfect day to eat some!- Karen.

  2. I have rarely seen someone so pleased with their rhubarb before! Funnily, I never buy forced rhubarb… I have always had this sneaky feeling that it’s cruel to grow it, but you make it sound terribly romantic!

    • It is often the little things which make us happy. Actually, I am not so sure it was such a little thing. It may only have been a village show, but the competiton was hot! There were two elderly gents who won everything…except the prize for the best Rhubarb and the best Lettuce. This was a Summer show, but I was happy to be able to sneak the photo in.

  3. Did you go out and buy that rhubarb-colored top on purpose, so you could look great accepting your prize?! Such a nice picture! And the whole background on the special rhubarb is very interesting–I had no idea. I was thrilled to see the custard, too–it is one of my favorite aspects of visiting England–getting stirred custard on top of all desserts!

    • You always make me laugh! I certainly dressed with care for the show. I was so happy to take my produce there.
      Apparently one can even hear the rhubarb growing in the dark sheds and the leaves opening make a kind of crackling sound. I don’t force my own Rhubarb because it exhausts the crowns and it would take 2 or more years to recover when I could pick no stems. The commercial growers have to throw away the crowns which they force.
      Thank you, as always for your lovely comments.

    • I am so pleased to hear about all those special things from your childhood.
      I have never grown Asparagus, but I love it. When I was young my family grew it for the Fern which comes after the Asparagus and they never ate it!
      I could just eat a slice of your childhood memories pie!
      Thanks Gretchen, Karen.

    • Thank you so much! Sweet Cicely is not always easy to find. I think have it. (Myrrhis odorata)
      It is such a pretty plant too.
      I am so excited today, I have had a series of my photos printed for cards and I go to collect them. I have seen the proofs and they have turned out so well. x

  4. Cool blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks

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