Welcoming Asparagus

For the past few weeks we’ve been looking for it at the farmer’s market here in NYC. One of the farmers told us it started to poke out of the ground but then it got colder again, and wasn’t ready in time for the market. Well, the last couple days have been darn hot and local asparagus is available! If you’re thinking to yourself, “I see asparagus in the grocery store all the time, what’s the big deal?” then read on.

When I read Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I learned a lot about asparagus. It seems to be her favorite plant. Here’s some great imagery from the book:

An asparagus spear only looks like it’s picture for one day of its life, usually in April, give or take a month as you travel from the Mason-Dixon line. The shoot emerges from the ground like a snub-nosed green snake headed for sunshine, rising so rapidly you can just about see it grow. If it doesn’t get it’s neck cut off at ground level as it emerges, it will keep growing. Each triangular spear rolls out into a branch, until the snake becomes a four-foot tree with delicate needles.

I also learned from this book that eating asparagus as soon as possible after it is harvested is paramount. “The moment the asparagus neck goes under the knife […] it begins to decompose, metabolizing it’s own sugars and trying […] to keep growing. It is best eaten the day it is cut, period.” She goes on to say, when transported the fresh stems lose their shine and crispness so quickly and the sweetness goes starchy. So, if you think you don’t like asparagus, try getting some local, freshly cut asparagus and see if you change your mind.

If you already enjoy cooking with asparagus, please share your favorite recipe in the comments! I’m sharing Macaroni with Asparagus.