We generally like to try things raw around here, but once in a while we encounter something that’s actually poisonous to eat in its raw state. I’ve since learned that only a rhubarb’s leaves are poisonous, not the stalk. But any talk of poison, leaves or otherwise, is bound to send kids running in the other direction. My solution was to make the rhubarb into jam, which didn’t fix the underlying issue: rhubarb, sadly, wasn’t a hit.
ME: Ok guys. What is this mystery food?
ME: Well it kind of looks like jelly. You know what? The reason why we’re eating jam as mystery food today is because in its raw form, rhubarb is is actually poisonous. Sam, You can pass that around (I pass him the rhubarb stalk).
SAM: No, I’m not touching it, it’s poisonous.
ME: No, no. It’s fine just don’t eat it. What color is it?
LAUREN: Um, pink.
ME: What does it remind you of, Sam?
LAUREN: I’m scared to touch it.
ME: You don’t have to be scared to touch it.
(Emma takes a huge bite out of the raw stalk.)
ALL OF US TOGETHER: Oh my God Emma, don’t eat it!
(Emma runs from the room crying.)
ME: Oh we scared her, we scared her. [going after Emma] It’s ok. Remember you can’t eat it sweetie? Remember that you have to eat the jelly rhubarb, not the raw rhubarb? Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.
LAUREN: That is poisonous.
ME: Yes. Ok, Sam, get your finger out of the jelly.
ME: Oh, poor sweetie. Remember, it’s poisonous if you eat it raw. That will make you sick if you eat it raw, it has to be cooked. Want to come back? Come on, we want you here with us.
LAUREN: [whispering to Sam] Ok it’s fine, just eat it.
ME: Ok. So who’s going to try the jelly?
SAM: Me, me I want to.
LAUREN: I don’t like it.
LAUREN: Don’t like it.
ME: Here, you try it, SAM. There you go.
SAM: I want jelly.
ME: This is it.
SAM: That’s jelly?
ME: What’s wrong?
SAM: It’s just that it’s not jelly.
ME: This is rhubarb. This is a rhubarb jam that I made.
LAUREN: You made it?
ME: Yeah. I think it tastes good.
SAM: I want real jelly.
ME: Emma, you want to try it? Come here sweetie. You want to smell it first?
ME: So guys, do you think this is a fruit or a vegetable?
LAUREN: A fruit.
ME: What do you think, Sam?
SAM: A vegetable.
ME: Why do you think it’s a vegetable?
SAM: Because you eat it. And you eat poison.
ME: It’s actually a vegetable. Sam was right.
SAM: I know.
ME: So it’s a vegetable that you make into jelly, isn’t that interesting? Do you know why it’s a vegetable? Do you know the definition of a fruit? It’s something that has a seed or seeds, and this has no seeds. So it’s a vegetable.
LAUREN: Strawberries don’t have seeds.
ME: Yes they do, they’re covered in seeds. Ok, what is a tomato — a fruit or a vegetable?
LAUREN: A fruit.
ME: Think about it. Does a tomato have seeds?
ME: Yes, it does.
LAUREN: It does?
ME: It does have seeds.
SAM: So, it’s a fruit?
ME: Yeah, it’s actually a fruit.
ME: So this, you’re eating vegetable jam and then a tomato is a fruit. Isn’t that confusing?