Homage to Rhubarb

David Allen

  • Rhubarb: The Wondrous Drug by Clifford Foust
    Princeton, 317 pp, £27.50, April 1992, ISBN 0 691 08747 4

Not before time, historians are turning their attention to the often remarkably involved careers of the more familiar fruits and vegetables. For long, Redcliffe Salaman held this field alone, with his justly-renowned History and Social Influence of the Potato. Smaller-scale and little-known by comparison, but in its unambitious way hardly less fascinating, is N.W. Simmonds’s monograph on bananas, with its thought-provoking insights into early human migrations derived from the study of present-day distributions of the banana’s varieties, each of them reproducible only vegetatively and so totally dependent on human beings for their spread.

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