Every year without fail, when asparagus season begins in April, restaurant billboards start luring customers with special recipes and the outdoor market vendors haggle over the kilo price with customers.
But the Wild asparagus is also spring vegetable, (right now) and in ancient times it was consumed Greeks and Romans who ate wild asparagus fresh when in season, and dried for use in winter. Walking in a market I stumbled across these wild Slovenian asparagus and my eyes bulged.
They seemed a little tired but picking and transporting these 3mm asparagus to the market is not that easy. When it comes to wild, you must be quick, as only young asparagus shoots are commonly eaten and once the buds start to open “ferning out” the shoots quickly turn woody.
But on the other hand there’s a huge German culture for the white asparagus, often called “edible ivory” and their freshness is highly regarded from beginning of March to June. For the diehard asparagus fans, specially planned routes lead them through multiple fields and farms, with plenty of tasting opportunities along the way.
In the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, the route stretches 135 kilometers from Scherzheim to Schwetzingen, the self-proclaimed asparagus capital of the world. The so-called Spargelstrasse (Asparagus Street) in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia offers cycling routes through some 400+ asparagus farms, many of which also have in-house restaurants.
Compared to green asparagus, the locally cultivated so-called “white gold” or “edible ivory” asparagus, also referred to as “the royal vegetable”, is less bitter and easier to obtain.