Eat March: White asparagus

Eat March: White asparagus

March 20, 2018

Did you know that the average German consumes 3.3 pounds of asparagus during 'Spargelzeit', asparagus season?

Origin. Asparagus has been a celebrated vegetable for thousands of years. It's pictured on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 BC and was the favorite vegetable of the Roman emperor Augustus. Today, white asparagus is especially popular in Europe - Germany and Switzerland in particular - where it is often referred to as 'white gold', 'edible ivory' or 'the royal vegetable'.  

Growing. To cultivate white asparagus (as opposed to green) the shoots are covered with soil - or “earthed up” - as they grow which prevents the chlorophyll from turning them green as part of photosynthesis.

Flavor. This special growing process keeps the white asparagus stalks tender and less bitter than their green counterparts. Its flavor is often described as sweet, delicate, and slightly bitter.

Cooking. In Germany, asparagus season (from April to June 24) is taken very seriously. There are festivals throughout the country and restaurants serve up asparagus menus that include items like cream of asparagus soup, asparagus ragout and even white asparagus panna cotta! The most traditional way they eat asparagus though is cooked in a light stock and plated up with melted butter, boiled potatoes, and a couple of slices of cooked or cured ham; a simple preparation to showcase the white asparagus' delicate flavor. Guten appetit!

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