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Asparagus is a plant which actually can grow quite a lot. It grows wild, and off course, it can be planted in gardens.
I learnt to love and to find wild asparagus when I was in Italy many years ago, in the North, where they still grow. The wild asparagus is relatively easy to spot, if you find one, since the leaves are like small needles. People who go and collect them, use gloves.
The season to collect asparagus is April, May, June in Europe, depending on the country.
Asparagus was used since the time of the Greek and Romans. The edible part are the shoots.
They can be white, or red and are normally long around 15-20 centimetres.
You can eat asparagus boiled, when they are fresh, or you can eat them from the can, if you buy them out of season. Here are few suggestions on how to eat them.
Asparagus with eggs and Parmesan cheese. It is a classic. Boil them, prepare scrambled eggs to drop on top of the asparagus and grate as much Parmesan cheese you like. Although the Asparagus itself is very low in cholesterol, the eggs may add to it, but it is a very nice plate and it also combine a vegetable with proteins from the eggs.
Boiled Asparagus with olive oil and lemon. Very simple. Boil them, them prepare in a plate some olive oil and some freshly squeezed lemon on it and dip the asparagus. Very nice when eaten in early summer. I suggest you boil the Asparagus and keep them in the fridge.
Rice with Asparagus. Preare a risotto and add Asparagus in the same way you would normally add a vegetable.
Finally, you may or not may know this, but there is a belief that Asparagus can affect the smell of your urine and also increase the frequency at which you urinate. Being and having been a great fan of Asparagus I would tend to disagree on both.
I see that they sell Asparagus during the season at Tesco, however, I normally prefer to have them in France or Italy. Asparagus it is not widely produced in UK.
I hope you found this interesting.
Thank you for reading.
Asparagus is a thin green vegetable that has a tip that looks slightly leafy and darker. It can be found growing in many parts of Europe, and in Africa and Asia. It is a flowering plant that grows straight up out of the ground which is then picked. It has a lovely taste that is unique and not over powering.
Asparagus is very healthy for you, containing almost no calories and is a good source of minerals such as iron. It can be cooked in many ways - steamed, boiled, roasted or made into a soup etc, and it doesn't take long to cook. There are so many possibilities, although avoid eating it raw.
There are many varieties of asparagus that vary in size and colours. It is not one of the cheapest vegetables however it only costs a few quid for a large bunch.
Finally the one thing you should know about asparagus is that it can cause your wee to have a strong scent. This is nothing to be worried about, it's perfectly normal. It is purely down to chemistry. But do not fear you can only smell it if you have a certain gene, which only 22% of the population have!
Asparagus is a vegetable which is normally eaten cooked but can be eaten raw, it's quite a popular vegetable. Instead of giving you a recipe for it I'm going to give you some simple facts about it as that's probably a lot more interesting.
* Asparagus is fat-free, saturated fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free, low in calories, a good source of folic acid
~ It is actually a member of the lily family
* In plant terms it is cousin to the onion even though it tastes nothing like it
~ It is a perennial plant
* It contains a lot of vitamins A, B, C and E as well as potassium and zinc
~ One plant can produce spears for up to 25 years
* If you eat to much asparagus your urine will turn yellow
~ It is native to the Mediterranean
* It can be used to treat arthritis, rheumatism and water retention
~ Highly recommends for pregnant women as it contains all necessary vitamins
* It's botanical name is Asparagus Officinalis
~ It's most widely available from February to June
* The country to grow the most Asparagus is California
~ It has been eaten for over 2000 years
I hope that you've enjoyed these facts and will eat some Asparagus, it's very healthy and contains loads of vitamins!
``Asparagus is an aphrodisiac'' I confidently told my man.
Feeling a little threatened by this claim, he declared it was at the top of the list of aphrodisiacs because it started with the letter A.
Now, it really was a serious situation he found himself in. Every day for eight years he'd picked up his lunch box and headed out the door to carry out the aching, back-breaking job of picking asparagus. Little did he realise he was putting himself at risk of being covertly stimulated, 'aphrodisiacally' speaking (is there such a word I wonder?)''!
I am an expert on re-telling the tales from the fields of the asparagus pickers in our province: I know how it's planted, how it's watered, when you pick it, how you pick it, even when and why you fertilise it. Anything you want to know about asparagus, ask me!!!! (Tongue in cheek there and a little sarcastic. But, I tell you, every night he came home I had to endure many, many tales from the asparagus field.)
I know this member of the lily family takes 3 years before you cut a crop, it's cut with a really sharp knife, one inch above the ground, it has to be packed and away to market that very day. OH, also I know that next day he trudged out to the asparagus field the spears would have grown 10 inches in 24 hours!
Now, being used to research, I did some while he worked away, challenging every bone in his middle-age back. I learned that the folacin in asparagus is extremely good for your blood, growth and it helps prevent liver disease. It has folic acid, potassium, fibre, thiamin and Vitamins B6 and some A and C.
The asparagus IS historically speaking an aphrodisiac. Why else did a 16th century Arabian Love Manual provide an asparagus recipe to create stimulus for amorous desires? Not quite so sexy were the Ancient Greeks and Romans who thought it would help prevent getting a bee sting or they popped along to the apothecary for an aparagus spear or two when they got toothache.
There's that word 'ache' again. My man knows about the aches and pains of asparagus picking. I must mention here that I was supportive: I always had a huge bottle of bath salts on hand for him to soak in after doing battle with acres of asparagus (Derived from Greek 'sprouts and shoots') - there's sex creeping in again!
Let's get this review back on track horticulturally! Most asparagus is green but there are increasingly new varieties of which I have tried red. Whatever the colour, you can eat asparagus raw but it really is better cooked. I always steam it and eat it a little crunchy; you can cook it in the microwave, or stir-fry it with other veges.
What you should look for if you are buying asparagus is straight, firm spears with green or purple, tight heads. Remember it is freshness that is important here, not size. Plan on preparing around 1lb (500g) for up to 4 servings, depending on how many spears you want to serve on each plate. (Half a cup of cooked asparagus will be around 24 calories.)
Asparagus is BEST eaten fresh, the day it's picked - devine. But, whenever you eat it just wash it, break the stems near the bottom to ensure there is no woody parts left on it. It will snap at the appropriate place. Boil the slightly salted water first and then plunge the spears in for a short time. Up to you for how long, decide if you want it crisp or soft. (I find that the thicker stems cook up more tender than thinner spears.)
If you don't use it the day you pick or buy it, or you are lucky to have heaps of it and want to use it in a day or two you can keep it reasonably fresh. Cut the stems 1/4'' up, wash in warm water, pat them dry and put them into a moisture-proof wrapping and then wrap the stem ends in a moistened paper towel or stand them upright in around 2'' of water. I have just wrapped them in a damp tea towel and put them in the fridge and had good results. (Asparagus needs to breath so don't wrap them in plastic.)
You can freeze asparagus or can it, but I much prefer it fresh. With a new bunch coming home everyday we just ate if fresh-picked and thanked our lucky stars that we had access to such a delightful vegetable.
My favourite easy meal is simple. Cook the asparagus, drain and pop them on a warm plate, poach two eggs to soft and put them on top, pepper to taste, put crunchy, brown-bread toast triangles around and then just savour the spring-time flavour.
Asparagus is not alway cheap so it is a vegetable that may well have a reputation of being a festive food, but do include it in the family meal planner. It is good for you, tastes superb and makes a change from the staple vegetables that are so easy to get into a habit of eating.
Centuries ago, the Egyptians offered asparagus to the Gods, they obviously knew what I know..... it really is a devine, heavenly vegetable!
(For those wondering if so much asparagus in our life put me in a position to pontificate on whether it really is an aphrodisiac in our relationship... my lips are sealed!)
OR, TRY IT FOR YOURSELF!
Not being sure if asparagus was a well known vegetable in the UK I asked some of my online friends and got some interesting answers. All participants of the mini survey (five people) knew it, two loved it, three out of four had never eaten it and one friend wrote about the difficulty of growing it in one´s garden.
Growing this vegetable at home is an idea which would never have come to my mind. It is possible to do so provided your garden is very sunny and has got loose and slightly sandy soil rich in organic material which drains well, asparagus doesn´t like to get wet feet. It´s a perennial plant which multiplies readily through its roots system and will thrive for many years with little care, roots require one or two years to develop enough stalks to harvest.
Doesn´t sound too difficult, does it? And yet, none of the gardeners I know grows this vegetable; when we Germans think asparagus we think very large fields with rows of elevated beds watched attentively during the season from the end of April until 24th June, the day of St. John after which asparagus is not eaten any more. Just after sunrise the pickers, nearly exclusively people from Eastern Europe (Germans don´t want to do the backbreaking job, they prefer the dole money) go out onto the fields and where they see a slight crack in the soil they put their special knife in and cut the stalk carefully. A length of 22 cm means Extra Class, 17 cm Class 1, the perfect stalk should be straight, have a diameter of 1,6 - 2,6 cm and a closed head [I won´t look up the length in inches, sooner or later you´ll have to learn the metric measures anyway, so why not start now with me?! :-)]
In order to get completely white or to be precise: off-white, ivory coloured, asparagus the cutting must be done before the tip of the plant gets into contact with sunlight which would make it green or s
lightly violet. Diligent pickers can pick three to five kilos per hour, that means approximately 100 stalks; during the season asparagus grows so quickly that there´s a second harvest in the afternoons!
Due to the fact that each stalk must be taken out of the beds by hand and that human labour is costly (even if the pickers from Eastern Europe get lower wages than Germans would), asparagus is an expensive vegetable; edible ivory is a fitting nickname indeed. It´s interesting to learn that this has always been the case.
Historians of food (yes, there is such a subject at uni!) know that asparagus was first grown in Asia Minor and spread in the countries round the Mediterranean Sea about two thousand years ago. In 304 AD the Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered a price limit for the vegetable, now we don´t have emperors any more and the free market regulates the price which is around 8 GBP for 1 kilo according to my informants.
The Greeks used the word ´asparagos´ for many stalk-like vegetables, it became ´asparagus´in Latin for the vegetable in question, in England the word was shortened in the 1600s in popular speech to ´sparagus, which became sparagrass or sparrowgrass by folk etymology. For many centuries asparagus was more known as a medicinal herb than a culinary delicacy and until the mid-19th century it remained a luxury dish available only to the nobility. How did asparagus reach northern Europe at all? Well, the Romans took the plant with them when they crossed the Alps to conquer the uncivilised tribes living there. From an information site on asparagus I´ve learnt that the vegetable is grown in England, but hardly in Scotland or Wales.
Now the greatest producers are Spain, Greece, France and Italy, but Germany isn´t far behind. I found figures for the year
2001: 65 000 t of asparagus were produced and each German ate nearly 2 kg. As there are Germans who never ever eat this vegetable, there must be people who virtually live on it during the season!
There has always been made a lot of fuss around this vegetable, in Germany two towns stand out in this field. Schrobenhausen, a small town in Upper Bavaria, sports the one and only European Asparagus Museum, Schwetzingen, a town in the land Baden-Württemberg, very near to the famous university town of Heidelberg, is the self-proclaimed most famous asparagus town of the world. The highlight of its annual festivities is the naming of the King or Queen- whoever weighs in the heaviest asparagus stalk. When I studied in Heidelberg this always used to amuse me and my friends very much, especially when there was a king what with the shape of the asparagus stalk!
It can´t come as a surprise to learn that given its phallic shape, asparagus is frequently enjoyed as an aphrodisiac food. A Vegetarian Society suggests, ´Feed your lover boiled or steamed spears for a sensuous experience´and, ´Eating asparagus for three days for the most powerful affect´. [I haven´t tried it, if you do, leave a comment, please, I can include your experience in an update:-)].
What is so special about asparagus? 95% of the plant is water, but the rest contains valuable minerals and vitamins, according to dietologists it is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin K, folacin, a good source of dietry fibre and also supplies the B group vitamins thiamine and riboflavine, as well as potassium and iron, it cleans the blood, activates the kidneys and drains water out of the body. Unfortunately it has also an unpleasant side-effect, at least for one day the urine stinks repulsively, why that is so nobody can say for sure. There
are theories containing words like asparagine-amino-succinic-acid monoamide which sound quite convincing, but then only 50% of the asparagus eaters are affected which makes the whole thing quite mysterious.
The real aficionados don´t care, they love asparagus for the TASTE! There are innumerable ways of serving it as you can see on special sites dedicated to the Royal Vegetable, I´ve counted 40 different recipes before giving up. Before we can think of how to serve asparagus, we first must know of how to prepare it, mustn´t we? Here we go:
The asparagus must be fresh, that´s vital, it should best be eaten on the day of picking. The heads must still be closed, the stems must make a squeaking sound when you rub them against each other. Wash the stalks, cut off the end and peel them with a knife or a potato peeler. If you have to keep the asparagus for a day or two, wrap the stalks into a damp cloth such as a kitchen towel and put them in the fridge.
If you eat asparagus regularly, you may be interested in buying a high pot into which you can put the stalks upright. I don´t have one, what do I do with such a pot for the rest of the year? I use a flat one which is as big in diameter as the stalks are long. Fill the pot with so much water that the stalks are covered, add some butter (!) and sugar (!) and bring to boil. Add some salt before you put the stalks in, boil them for five minutes, then simmer for about 15 minutes.
The classical asparagus dish in Germany is: asparagus, boiled new potatoes, ham and Sauce Hollandaise. I buy it ready made, it tastes good and wouldn´t taste better if I prepared it myself.
Don´t throw the water away in which you´ve boiled the asparagus, put the peelings in and let them simmer for 20 minutes, you can then press them through a sieve to get some pulp out (and then throw the
m away), the liquid you´ve got now is a kind of stock; I´ve put it in the freezer and will use it in winter to make delicious asparagus soup.
White vegetables go well with white wine.