The Rhubarb Triangle of Yorkshire Meets The Fashion House of Hermès Paris

Rhubarb by Robert Papp
Rhubarb by Robert Papp

Growing up in Leeds, West Yorkshire, the heart of “The Rhubarb Triangle” (Nine square miles between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell, originally much larger, covering nearly thirty square miles, including Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield, when at its peak in 1939) how could I not adore rhubarb?

I was raised on these juicy, pink, bittersweet sticks!


Yorkshire forced rhubarb;  Yorkshire leads the way!
Yorkshire forced rhubarb;
 Yorkshire leads the way!

My grandmother, Lily, had a massive rhubarb patch in her English country garden, when we were but nippers, it was taller than us.

Grandmother Lily's Home to enormous rhubarb patch
Grandmother Lily's
Home to enormous rhubarb patch

What fun we had, parading under the old apple tree, a stick of rhubarb with its enormous frilly leaf, masquerading as an umbrella.

Beatrix Potter The tale of Johnny Town- Mouse 1918
Beatrix Potter
The tale of Johnny Town- Mouse 1918

How delicious the crumbles, and, of course, rhubarb and custard, chopped rhubarb stewed to a stringy pulp, served with acid-yellow Bird’s custard.

Rhubarb Crumble
Rhubarb Crumble

Rhubarb & Custard
Rhubarb & Custard

Looking nothing like we were served up by my grandmother, Lily.
We had it just slopped in bowl with custard poured over.

Unfortunate, or should I say lazy people, used the insipid tinned variety, goodness knows why, this was West Yorkshire, we were surrounded by the stuff!

There was even rhubarb wine, Lily was an avid wine-maker, potato, elderberry, blackberry, rhubarb, you name it, and she made it.

Lily Gaythorpe of Woodhall Hills Avid wine-maker
Lily Gaythorpe of Woodhall Hills
Avid wine-maker

You may be wondering where the prestigious, French house of  Hermès

  comes into the story.

 Think Hermès;

A life of luxury Hermes
A life of luxury

Paris fashion week.

Hermes Paris Fashion Week 2016
Paris Fashion Week 2016

 Butter-soft, supple leather.

Hermes Birkin Bag.
Hermes Birkin Bag

 Haute Couture.

Hermes Paris
Hermes Paris

Romantic weekends in the City of Light.

 A world of luxury and class.

Paris City of Light
City of Light

And then think rhubarb;

Fields fertilized with aromatic horse manure, or mungo and shoddy ( waste from the wool mills).

Victoria Mill. Ossett Sorting Shoddy
Victoria Mill. Ossett (West Yorkshire)
Sorting Shoddy

The dark satanic mills of Bradford.

Dark Satanic Mills Bradford West Yorkshire
Dark Satanic Mills
West Yorkshire

Low rhubarb sheds, heated by coal in winter, and later, by diesel fuel.
The rhubarb harvest, picked by candlelight, (Exposure to strong sunlight; rare in West Yorkshire, halted all growth).

Forcing sheds in The Rhubarb Triangle. West Yorkshire Photo Martin Parr
Forcing sheds in The Rhubarb Triangle.
West Yorkshire
Photo Martin Parr

Wakefield Annual Rhubarb Festival;

 Walks and talks among the rhubarb “Forcing sheds”

Rhubarb Harvest
Rhubarb Harvest

Night Harvesting
Night Harvesting

Rhubarb Workers Photo Martin Parr
Rhubarb Workers
Photo Martin Parr

Where on Earth is the connection between The House of Hermès  and good old Yorkshire rhubarb?

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather, or, as we say in Yorkshire, when confronted by something astonishing; “I’ll go t’foot of our stairs”, when I came across a rhubarb scent!

Yes, really, rhubarb scent, not any old rhubarb scent, but a scent created by the famous “Noses” of the House of Hermès, Paris.

The blurb on their website says;

"I’ve always loved the duality of rhubarb. A double duality: visual and olfactory. The green colour metamorphoses into red. Starting acidic and crisp, its smell becomes smooth and velvety.”
Christine Nagel

With Hermes Eau de rhubarbe ecarlate, Christine Nagel has created her first Cologne for Hermès. Unprecedented and bold, more vegetal than citrus, it gives us the crisp, acidic freshness of rhubarb made velvet smooth with white musks.

Hermes Eau de rhubarbe  ecarlate
Eau de rhubarbe ecarlate

I have to wonder, has Mr. 
Hermès   ever visited the rhubarb triangle of West Yorkshire?
Does he realize just what he is associating himself with?

There's something just a bit comical about rhubarb, okra, or, lady's finger's, bamias in Greek, have the same connotation, a suggestion of ridiculousness, it's quite common to hear Greek children calling each other "Bamia", in place of stupid or idiot!

Rhubarb is something I would never mention in the same breath as Hermès.

I have spotted though, rhubarb creme brulee, and rhubarb macarons with custard buttercream and roasted rhubarb, how posh is that?

Rhubarb seems to be on its way up the social ladder.

So you never know, Mr. Hermès, may be way ahead in his thinking!

Rhubarb & Custard Macarons
Rhubarb & Custard Macarons

Eau de rhubarb, goodness, even the name makes me laugh,  was launched earlier this year, 2016, so, it's early days yet, but, I'm very curious to see if it will be popular!

Hermes Eau de rhubarbe  ecarlate
Hermes Eau de rhubarbe  ecarlate

From the chic French salons of Paris, to a wild, windy and wet West Yorkshire, 

Hermès and Rhubarb are light years apart, or are they?

Time will tell.

Wet, chilly West Yorkshire
Wet, chilly West Yorkshire

Anyway, as I have been living in hot, sunny Greece for the past thirty odd years, I can’t remember the last time I ate rhubarb, which needs a cold, wet climate to thrive, West Yorkshire is perfect!

I often think of rhubarb, I can hardly remember the taste; it’s been so long, oh, how I adored it.

All my problems are solved, I shall purchase a bottle of Eau de rhubarbdouse myself in it, the memories are bound to come flooding back!

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