Imagine for a moment enduring many, many months without fresh, homegrown produce. Tragic, right? Especially for a passionate gardener who loves to prepare and share garden-to-table fare for family and friends. Now you can stop imagining because this next part requires no imagination… It’s Spargelzeit!
The word Spargel means asparagus and Zeit means time. The term Spargelzeit refers to the time of year when white asparagus is harvested in Germany (some call it Spargelsaison – “asparagus season”). (Source: GermanyinUSA.com)
Essex is a decent wander from Germany, but I certainly share their enthusiasm for the first harvest of homegrown asparagus. So whether we call it asparagus time (Spargelzeit) or asparagus season (Spargelsaison), let’s celebrate the first garden-to-table produce of the 2023 season.
Now, there is one little hiccup in my declaration of Spargelzeit, and that has to do with the color of the king of vegetables. But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself. Let’s return to Germany for a moment.
It’s that time of year again — the asparagus season has started in Germany! To say Germans love this seasonal vegetable would be an understatement… they absolutely adore it. Every year, the average German consumes roughly 1.5kg of the vegetable that is often referred to as the ‘king of the vegetables’.
Whilst the green variety is available all year round, Germans prefer the seasonal white variety that grows only during ‘Spargelzeit’ (asparagus season) which lasts from mid-April to mid or late June. (Source: Medium.com)
I remember discovering something similar while living in Paris in my 20s. Although the French considered white asparagus a delicacy, they looked askance at green asparagus. Too pedestrian, perhaps. Peculiar, say I. After all, the white asparagus has practically no flavor at all. But green asparagus, I’d like to suggest, is, in fact, the precise taste of the color green. Delicate, subtly bitter, and bursting with vibrance. The taste of spring… The taste of spring…
In the photo above the asparagus occupies place of honor in the middle of my plate. To the left, a simple grilled ground beef patty from Full and By Farm, and to the right some organic tomatoes I picked up in Vermont. Having spent the morning planting tomatoes in our high tunnel with Tony, I am hopeful, that soon — or at least far sooner than usual — I will be able to share photos of our earliest-ever tomatoes!
As a nod to Spargelzeit I tried to accompany my Rosslyn asparagus with other local food. Perhaps a sausage would have been more appropriate.
Traditional restaurants offer menus dedicated to this seasonal favourite, offering soups, salads and warm spears served with hollandaise sauce. It’s also served as a sort of add-on to other regional favourites, piled upon a schnitzel or a slice of saumagen (a haggis-like specialty from the Pfalz region), or stacked alongside a pair of hot, meaty bratwürste. When it comes to any plate of food in Germany, white asparagus is no exception: more is definitely more. That’s not a stereotype that will ever be crushed. (Source: The Guardian)
More is more, but I’ve decided to temper my overexuberance on this first day of Rosslyn Spargelzeit. I was tempted to serve myself a second heaping mound of asparagus, but I managed to exercise a modicum of restraint and placed them instead into the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch. Chilled asparagus with balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious.
What do you think?