Tag Archives: russia

Russians Loving the Rheum

There is heaps of information from the 17th century that documents the Russians’ demand for our tasty leafy friend, with traders traveling the length of the Northern Rhubarb Road fairly extensively from the Hexi Corridor to the Central Apothecary Office in St. Petersburg.

No wonder the Chinese thought it no idle threat to withhold rhubarb from the Russians on several occasions. They must have been doing something with the plant, clearly.

Sadly, that ruse wasn’t up to much when the Chinese tried the same thing on the Brits, as we know. It seems the emperor wasn’t all that well-informed about everyday life over in Blighty, where the hardy plant was already a staple of Victorian allotments.

Anyhow, we’re not really all about the Northern Rhubarb Road on this trip. Once you’re across the border you can hop on an old Soviet train – still functioning despite the implosion of the country nearly 20 years ago – and within a few days of playing cards and drinking a ferocious amount of vodka with your fellow passengers, you’ll be in Moscow. Done.

None of this train, bus, taxi, crossing-borders, negotiating hundreds of different languages lark. By comparison it’s all pretty simple really.

So that’s precisely why we’re taking our very own southern Rhubarb Rhoute. It’s warmer. The food’s better. We get to go to Samarqand.

No brainer, really.

The Threat of Withheld Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a prime bargaining chip in international relations. Fact.

Uncle Joe would drive a hard bargain - but Churchill knew he had the upper hand

Uncle Joe would drive a hard bargain - but Churchill knew he had the upper hand

First – some context. Rhubarb held a semi-sacred status amongst Chinese imperial circles, largely due to its ability to flush out all the general nastiness that one encountered living in China centuries ago. (It’s pretty grisly now, so imagine what it must have been like before soap and toothpaste made it to the Middle Kingdom.)

Logically, they believed that the Europeans were similarly as obsessed, and to withhold rhubarb was tantamount to abandoning them to a painful death by constipation – en masse.

First, it was the Russians who were to risk this terrible threat.

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