In the veggie box

I like putting things in boxes and categories. I have mental boxes such as:

  • fruit vs vegetable
  • sweet vs savoury

I feel uncomfortable when things drift between mental boxes. This is why I am considerably concerned about tomato based drinks. To me, drinks are in the ‘sweet’ box, as opposed to soups, which are generally ‘savoury’.

A tomato drink is not hot enough to be a soup and not sweet enough to be a drink, so I find it confusing.

Recently, I had a mental box problem to do with rhubarb. Damjan’s housemate, Niall, went to visit Nick. Nick gave Niall some home-grown rhubarb. Niall re-gifted it to Damjan, as everyone knows that Damjan likes to experiment with cooking the less common veggies.

Damjan and I pored over a number of candidate recipes: rhubarb and orange mousse and rhubarb fool. We finally settled on a monstrous hybrid of both: orange rhubarb fool with ice-cream.

We stewed the rhubarb with brown sugar, adding freshly squeezed orange juice and grated ginger. Then we dollaped it onto vanilla ice cream and served it with fresh ripe and sweet strawberries.

What a dessert! It was very delicious, tart and sweet, soft but textured.

Even as I enjoyed my dessert, I was feeling tense because of a mental box scramble. Rhubarb is a vegetable. I can’t go around eating vegetables for dessert.

The only solution, I have decided, is to reclassify rhubarb into my mental ‘fruit’ box. Such reclassifications are not unprecedented. For my whole life, tomatoes and cucumbers have been happily sitting in the veggie box, despite being fruits.

But this particular mental switch (rhubarb as fruit) has been more difficult than I expected. The problem is that rhubarb looks like celery, and there is nothing more vegetably than celery.

If I keep at it, I am sure I will get around this mental block. I know it is possible because after a short struggle, one of my favourite desserts is now carrot cake. The sheer yumminess of carrot cake has overwhelmed the boundaries of my boxes.

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