I'm afraid once I do this I won't have any readers left because you will all think I'm completely nuts.
It all started when I was about eight years old. As the child of a single mother, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' home while she worked. I happened to hear them talk about eating a rhubarb pie. Maybe someone had given them one (they didn't go in for pie baking themselves) or they bought one. I don't remember the context of the conversation. I just know it was the first time I ever heard of a rhubarb pie. I thought the word was sort of silly. ROO-barb PIE. If you said it enough, it made you laugh - or so I thought.
One day my friend Maria and I were in one of the bedrooms playing a game of Othello. Eight-year-olds are not terribly good at strategizing in games like that (at least Maria and I were not). The game was getting dull and had reached a stalemate. I wanted to end it. She did not.
I had this wonderful idea for ending the game: I would freak her out. But how? I remembered my grandparents and their rhubarb pie. I kept thinking about what a silly word "rhubarb" was. I said it out loud. "Rhubarb pie." Then I made it into a conversation. "Rhubarb pie? Rhubarb pie!" Then I began to giggle. This really was silly. "Rhubarb pie," I repeated, raising up as much laughter as I could. Soon rhubarb pie was like my own private joke. I began laughing and repeating "Rhubarb pie" over and over again. I got really into it. I was slapping my knee and everything.
My friend was sufficiently freaked out and began to put the game away. My trick had worked. This made me laugh even harder, but at this point, I was too carried away with rhubarb pie to even vocalize my satisfaction. I fell off the bed laughing and shouting, "Rhubarb pie," and began rolling around until I had pretty much laughed myself into a fetal ball on the floor, still muttering, "rhubarb pie."
A week later Maria and I and a few of our friends were playing, "Make me laugh," (basically we had to get up in front of our friends and try to make them laugh -comedians we were-I always lost because I laugh so easily). Maria got up and said, "Rachel, this is you." She began saying, "Rhubarb pie," and laughing, complete with knee slapping. I couldn't contain my laughter for more than a second.
(Believe it or not, Maria and I are still friends. She owns a very cool clothing boutique in my neighborhood and actually gives me discounts. Now that's a true friend. I do sometimes introduce her to people as the original victim of a rhubarb pie laughing fit.)
Now it seems to this day, I will almost always laugh at the words "rhubarb pie." I have friends who will whisper it in my ear during solemn occasions or pass notes that say it while watching theater performances. I have one friend who will scream, "Rhubarb pie," to me when I'm already in a laughing fit just to see how hysterical I'll get. Just a few short years ago, many years after the original incident, I was having dinner at my grandmother's house and she offered me a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie and couldn't understand why I burst out laughing at the question.
I might as well point out that I'm laughing hysterically (with tears in my eyes) just typing this.
When I was first thinking of doing a food blog, I was discussing names with my friend Mike. He said the obvious name for it was Rhubarb Pie. I wasn't sure I wanted the name to just be Rhubarb Pie, but I realized he was right. It would be weird if Rhubarb Pie weren't prominent in a food blog, so it became The Essential Rhubarb Pie.
A few years ago there was a commercial on TV, I think it was a car commercial, where a man decides to take a different route to work. This leads him to stop at a completely different place to eat, and there he encounters something completely new in the dessert case - rhubarb pie. My brother was watching this commercial with his then-roommate. He commented how much I would love this commercial because I think rhubarb pie is so funny. Roommate thought about it for a moment and said, "Rhubarb pie is pretty funny."
I'm not a huge fan of Prairie Home Companion, but Garrison Keillor likes to say, "Nothing revives a guy like a slice of rhubarb pie." A slice of pie, or a slice of my blog? You decide.
Mama's little baby love rhubarb, rhubarb
Bee Bop A Ree Bop Rhubarb Pie!