Asparagus has just flourished all around us as it seem the season has once again come so fast and from past experience we know with a blink of an eye it will be gone again. I do however find my disappointment at the lack of green asparagus, available difficult to hide.
The French, far prefer white asparagus to green, or shall I rather say, the older generation do not eat green asparagus.
I absolutely love the green variety, and it excites me. The flavour is far more exciting, delicate, fresh and needs very little to go with it.
I find that the white variety needs more to enhance the dish when cooking with them, something I very seldom do.
Griddled Green Asparagus with Fried Ducks egg, Green Asparagus drizzled with a fine virgin olive oil and Parma ham, Griddled green asparagus with shaved parmesan and lightly dressed rocket, I could go on forever.
We know that the Egyptians ate Asparagus 3500 BC as did the Syrians, Greeks and Romans. Romans would even freeze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus.
There is a recipe for cooking asparagus in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’s third century AD, Book III.
The ancient Greek physician Galen, prominent among the Romans, mentioned asparagus as a beneficial herb during the 2nd Century AD, but after the Roman Empire ended asparagus drew little medieval attention.
By 1469 asparagus was cultivated in French monasteries. Asparagus appears to have been hardly noticed in England until 1538 and in Germany until 1542.
France’s Louis XIV had special greenhouses built for growing it
Asparagus became available to the New World around 1850, in the United States.
Asparagus is low in calories and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of vitamin B, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
My fondest memories of enjoying asparagus were in Southern Italy or Spain as I find the way they approach preparing it second to none. Keep it simple and do not spoil the ingredient!
I am off to Tours now in the hope of finding some Green Asparagus at the Market, as here locally it seems close to impossible to find any.