Tag Archives: italy

The Rhubarb Emporium

A late afternoon glass of prosecco by the Rialto – surely the perfect way to celebrate reaching the final destination for our favourite vegetable?

It’s warm, humid and entirely saturated with tourists, but I’ve had an inane grin on my face ever since arriving on the train from San Benedetto yesterday afternoon.

It’s funny how people regard you suspiciously if you’re alone and smiling.

Does he know something I don’t know? Is he smirking at ME?

Truth is, you can’t help but smile involuntarily when in Venice. Add in one gorgeous day, and it’s no wonder you’re grinning. Of course, if you’ve travelled nearly 20,000 kilometres to get here, an insane grin is all but compulsory.

Just opposite where I’m sitting on the Grand Canal is the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the key trading centre leased by the Venetians to foreign merchants around 800 years ago – around the time Marco Polo did us all a favour and brought the rheum to Europe.

So, if you were a pouch of dried rhubarb (you lost your leaves long, long ago – sorry, but it did take months to cross them deserts) this is where your Turkish owner would be flogging you whilst extolling your virtues as a purgative extraordinaire. Here amongst the spices, porcelain, pelts, silks and other bizarre pharmacopia, you would be sold for ridiculous sums to those well-heeled gents looking to keep the four ‘Essential Humours’ in balance.

You’ve come a long way. You’ve braved the barbarians on the Central Asian steppes, survived the interminable camel rides, scaled the formidable Tian Shan and avoided questionable Georgian mineral water.

For you, O Pouch of Rhubarb, this is as far as you come.

You’ll continue your travels in due course, but New England will have to wait a good few centuries before other species of the rhubarb clan wander across the Atlantic to grace their puddings.

Who would ever have thought that the roots of a bizarre-looking vegetable would ever have made it from the desolate, poverty-stricken hillsides just the wrong side of the Great Wall of China to arguably the most beautiful city in the world at the mouth of the Adriatic?

I’m mildly suprised I made it myself.

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Rhubarb Rhoute – LIVE

For those avid readers – or fans of rhubarb in general – who happen to be in Le Marche, Italy next week, you have a mighty treat in store.

From the local rag:

I Segretti della Via del Rabarbaro

Ewan Lamont é un uomo d’affari Inglese che lavora a Pechino, in Cina. Per molti anni si é interessato nella ‘Via del Rabarbaro‘. Come la antica ‘Via della Seta’, la Via del Rabarbaro attraversò l’ Asia Centrale e portò in 16 Seculo all’Europa, inclusa l’Italia, la pianta medicinale e misteriosa conosciuta oggi come il Rabarbaro.

Questi ultime mesi, Ewan ha percorso questa strada, incominciando in Cina e proseguendo via il Kazakhstan, il Kirghiztan, l’Uzbekistan, il Turkomenistan, l’Azerbaijan ed altre nazioni esotiche viaggando in autobus, treno, nave e cammello.

Le Marche saranno l’ultima tappa prima di concludere il viaggio a Venezia – l’Emporio del Rabarbaro.

Il 30 Luglio Ewan Lamont parlera del suo viaggio illustrato da diapositive della sua aventura. “

For those of you philistines who don’t read Italian, I’ve been asked to talk about my trip to a town in Le Marche, Italy (!). Rather poignantly, it will be the evening before I waltz into Venice, the de facto conclusion of the Rhubarb Rhoute.

Modesty prevents me from translating the rather grand introduction above, but suffice to say I’d better think up something interesting to say in the next few days, else I’ll have a hall full of disappointed Italians on my hands. And nobody wants a disappointed Italian.

When: 6pm, 30th July
Where: The Bronze Beaters’ Hall, off the Municipal Piazzo

(Cynics might suggest that I only agreed to it once I heard the name of the venue)

The paucity of appropriate material aside, of course, one pertinent issue that might complicate my timely arrival involves Turkish, Greek and Italian public transport. It’s fair to suggest that none of the three are synonymous with reliability – or indeed, good driving – so over the next few days I’ll need to cook up a plan to get halfway up Italy by the 30th.

Consider this a suspended-cliff-hanger conclusion to this post….

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