Union Square Market was a bustle of activity as the sky cleared up and the sun came out yesterday afternoon. The season's first ramp and spinach supplies were a sight to be seen. It had been a long winter of root vegetables for locavores, and there was a definite feeling of excitement among shoppers. Until things got ugly.
It seemed too early for rhubarb, but there, much to Lori Rheum's surprise, was a bunch. It seemed no one else was noticing the lone bunch of pink stalks. No doubt there had been plenty more this morning, much to the excitement of the local chefs. Rheum imagined making her special rhubarb pie as she maneuvered around a stroller to grab the veggies. Just as she had grasped the stalk there was an audible tear sound. It would seem Rheum wasn't the only rhubarb lover out in the market.
Sandra Plant had barely survived her first CSA winter. She had done everything thinkable with root vegetables. She was concerned her children were hiding Oreos under their bed. She must make them a local organic sweet before they went too far down the wrong path. That rhubarb must be hers.
The two women made eye-contact, each with one hand on the now slightly mangled rhubarb. They both smiled apologetically, but neither removed her hand. Both women were New Yorkers, and although always polite and willing to help tourists with directions, they were also regulars at Barney's warehouse sales. They knew a good bargain and were not about to let it go, even if it meant looking foolish (have you ever seen those women undress in the aisles of Barney's Warehouse? It's ridiculous).
"So early to see rhubarb," Rhum noted.
"I wasn't expected it for another couple of weeks," Plant added. "Global warming's probably somehow to blame." They both laughed tersely.
"You know the leaves are poisonous," Rhum said. And with that a challenge had been made.
What followed could only be described as fair, logical and obvious. This is New York not New Jersey for God's sake. The two women split the bunch of rhubarb, paid the farmer and placed their goods in their respective reusable bags. They both made a small rhubarb pie that evening. Rheum brought hers to a friends birthday party, where she told the story of the farmers' market scuffle. Her friends could not imagine a better pie, if only it was a bit larger. Back at Plant's house a pie too was baked and Plant's only regret was not having enough for leftovers, as she watched her family greedily gobble up dessert. Both women know that spring produce will eventually be here in abundance, but that does little to quell their current desire for just one more slice of rhubarb pie.
Both women knew that that spring could not arrive soon enough.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.