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June 15, 2006 |

Post to the Host:
It was sad to find out in my chemistry class that the tartness in rhubarb is from "oxalic acid". Oxalic acid, although it is useful for keeping the sauna clean, causes renal failure, stomach irritation, rudeness at dinner and flatulence at church. No amount of sugar can remedy the symptoms, nor will my aunt Hilga's home-baked crust that I lovingly use to mop up the rhubarb residue before turning in my clean plate. My questions are, am I immune because of my Viking heritage? Are there any substitutes for rhubarb pie that you can recommend? Thank you.

J.D. "Sven" W.
Williamsburg, VA

Science cannot explain everything, sir, and that includes the life-giving properties of rhubarb, the very joyfulness of it, its rejuvenating powers. As for flatulence, there is none at this end, and I had a rhubarb tart just last evening, along with a helping of pot roast and potatoes. A little cafe run by Democrats in Prospect Park, a neighborhood of southeast Minneapolis. We sat outdoors on a perfect summer evening, my wife and I, and there was no renal failure whatsoever. I can't vouch for Virginia rhubarb, but the varieties we encounter in Minnesota are nothing but beneficent.

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