Rhubarb has been grown in Iceland for over 130 years. This perennial plant quickly became immensely popular and could be found next to every farm and house in the country. Rhubarb hails from China, where it is known as a medicinal herb. The plant was imported to Europe, most likely in the 14th century, where rhubarb was grown in monasteries, and monks used the roots for medicine like the Chinese. Rhubarb is a dock plant and is therefore considered a vegetable. Icelanders primarily used the stalks in desserts and jams, but also for syrup and wine to a smaller extent.
Many Icelanders have childhood memories of barely escaping from angry neighbors, having raided their rhubarb patches. The loot was a juicy rhubarb stalk dipped in sugar and chewed and sucked on like candy.
The popularity of rhubarb has declined somewhat in recent decades, which might not be so strange given the increased availability of other fruits and vegetables. It has, however, become a success with famous chefs around the world, the rhubarb is now quite fashionable. Rhubarb has found a new role in cuisine, as it is widely used as a side or spice in all kinds of dishes as well in winery and for other applications. The taste of rhubarb is delicious. The rhubarb is among the first things to emerge from the soil in spring. It tastes best when it is fresh and newly grown. That is when one should take the opportunity to use it for something other than jam.