Meine Favorite!

My language school colleagues and I exhaust our meager vocabularies minutes into each class, leaving us little conversational recourse beyond smiles and nods. Our solution? The lovely Thai woman pats people soothingly on the shoulder, the Taiwanese woman writes out her neighbor’s name using formal Chinese characters, the Romanian woman shows me pictures from her recent sonogram, I offer someone a cough drop from the stash in my purse. There are lots of ways to get to know people; not all of them require a common language. Having said that, I am frustrated: I don’t want to be able to just say the word rhubarb, I want to TALK about rhubarb! Since I’m stymied by both a lack of relevant vocabulary and by a sneaking suspicion that rhubarb fans don’t grow on trees, I am taking my discussion to you, the good people of this tiny corner of the internet.
During the summer in Colorado, rhubarb is served fresh from the garden in strawberry-rhubarb pies or stewed as a topping for ice cream. It’s a special treat, and even people who really like it don’t eat that much of it.
In Germany, rhubarb is everywhere. It’s a layer in the excellent cheesecake at the local sweets shop, it’s served as a side dish for rich foods, it’s routinely an option as a soft drink. It’s this last one that kills me. Soda is bad for you, right? You should probably not drink soda, and should choose juice instead. But even juice has more sugar than you should really be eating, so you should mix your juice with sparkling water. And while you’re at it, how about drinking the juice of an exceptionally sour plant that has poisonous leaves (but lots of vitamin C!) Sounds like fun, no? The resultant drink, rhabarberschorle, is prettily pink, just a touch sweet, and has a lively burst of flowery/grassy/earthy notes that together taste like Spring. Heaven. It is more refreshing than Coke, more interesting than water or apple juice, and, dare I say, better for you than beer.
I don’t say this lightly (competition is fierce): rhubarb juice is my favorite thing about Germany.

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