This post first appeared in March 2010
Ann’s been charged with Stalking – stalks of rhubarb, of course
Rhubarb has just joined champagne, parma ham and parmesan cheese – it’s been awarded Protected Designation of Origin by the European Commission. But not any old rhubarb – only the tender, pink, forced rhubarb produced by just a dozen growers in the ‘rhubarb triangle’ near Wakefield in south Yorkshire.
Last year I went on a pilgrimage to see the rhubarb growing – in dark sheds lit only by candles for visitors and pickers. And this week I cooked some of Mrs. Oldroyd’s forced rhubarb – gently baked in the oven it tastes and looks wonderful – tender chunks in shocking pink juice.
For a long time Britain lagged behind in the Protected Designation of Origin stakes, but we’re catching up. There are now 41 British foods that qualify- including Cornish sardines, Melton Mowbray pies, Stilton, White Stilton, Double Gloucester and Staffordshire cheeses, Welsh lamb, Welsh beef, Orkney beef, Orkney lamb, Scotch beef, Scotch lamb, Whitstable oysters, Scottish farmed salmon, Jersey Royals, Arbroath smokies.
Clearly we have a way to go before we catch up with France’s 170 PDO’s –which include many many cheeses, 28 different regions producing chickens (there may be more- I gave up counting), pink garlic, white garlic, green lentils from Berry, and that traditional French fruit, the kiwi - from the pays de l’Adour, in the south west. Portugal has 113 PDO’s, Spain has 131 , but well in the lead is Italy, with 203.
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