About Asparagus

Asparagus

Asparagus is definitely a luxury vegetable. Its price, even in season, sets it apart from cabbages and cauliflowers, and it has a taste of luxury too. The spears, especially the thick, green spears, at their best in early summer, have an intense, rich flavor that is impossible to describe but easy to remember.

History : The ancient Greeks enjoyed wild asparagus but it was not until the Roman period that we know it was cultivated. Even then asparagus was highly thought of. It is recorded that Julius Caesar liked to eat it with melted butter. There is little mention of asparagus being eaten in England until the seventeenth century.

Nutrition : Asparagus provides vitamins A, B2 and C and is also a good source of potassium, iron and calcium. It is well-known diuretic.

Varieties : There are many varieties of asparagus and many different ways of raising it too. Spanish and some Dutch asparagus is white with ivory tips. It is grown under mounds of soul and cut just as the tips begin to show. The purple variety is mostly grown in France, where the spears are cut once the tips are about 4 cm above the ground. Consequently, the stalks are white and the tops tinged with green or purple. In contrast, English and American asparagus grows above the ground and the spears are entirely green. Arguments continue over which has the better flavor, most growers expressing a preference for their own asparagus.

Thin, short asparagus are called sprue and are excellent when briefly steamed or stir-fried and added to salads. In Italy, they are served by themselves, scattered with grated Parmesan cheese.

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