Irrational Exuberance

By FoodNerd April 21, 2009


Three signs that Spring has sprung. 

1) RHUBARB!  Stumbling out of class today with my head full of yoga bliss, I found myself in line at my favorite bakery.  And though I had been set on buying a baked current doughnut, I was delighted to spot not one but two items with rhubarb: Muffins, for those who crave a hefty baked goods experience, and turnovers, for those who want the sensation of lightness laced with layers of butter. In the name of research and accuracy, I chose to consume both so I could offer a firsthand account of their respective merits.  The muffin was moist and sprinkled with brown sugar while the turnover was flaky and wonderfully messy.

Though each was delightful, I preferred the turnover.  Partially because of the mess, mostly because of the concentration of rhubarb (the muffin, in comparison, only had bite-sized chunks interspersed).  When I eat rhubarb, I want the full impact.  I want it to resemble what I grew up on—a cooked-down mass of zingy sweetness that causes my jaw hinge to ache.

2) FROZEN YOGURT!  It may no longer be the Eighties but frozen yogurt is back—and this time, it truly is good for you!  In the past year, frozen yogurt stores have emerged to cause the gelato places serious competition.  What’s in their arsenal that the beloved Italian import can’t offer?  Live. Active.  Cultures.  Catering to the gut flora-conscious crowd while luring the usual calorie counters, this new wave of frozen yogurt boasts its health benefits and organic ingredients. Less sugar and chemicals, more actual yogurt—colder, more dense, and tastier.

The store in my neighborhood offers two flavors:  The traditional plain—or tart—and the seasonal, which for Spring is pomegranate.  Similar to the justifications I practiced in my teen years that led me to TCBY after an aerobics class, I find every warm day to require a cup of pomegranate frozen yogurt.  I’m a sucker for the sensation of sun and walking with something cool.

3) The last sweet sign of Spring is STRAWBERRIES!  A wonderful event unto itself  made even better when seen as a bellwether for the emergence of the entire berry family and Summer!  To celebrate, my neighbor and I decided to throw together some Strawberry Shortcake. “Throw together” being the operative phrase.  We were too excited and impatient to bake, so lemon pound cake was bought as was vanilla ice cream—while I sliced the strawberries and sprinkled more and more brown sugar on the layers.  (I was out of white sugar and used the brown on a whim, and it seems to have enhanced the actual flavor of the berries rather than competing with it as too much white sugar can do). 

We forced ourselves to have dinner first and then dug into our eagerly anticipated dessert.  Our only mistake?  The ice cream.  In the moment, it seemed right--just a small scoop to complement nature’s bounty. Something cold and creamy to bring all the flavors together.  But the berries could have held their own.  Vibrant red, sopped in their juices.  They were delicious, the ice cream a distraction.  

So goes irrational exuberance, I guess.  But that’s the beauty of Spring—waking up and jumping in.
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