April 2, 2007

Asparagus International

Asparagus in Munich .JPG

A full moon in Munich to herald the arrival, finally, of spring! Asparagus sprouts suddenly everywhere: in markets, on menus. Green from Greece, white from Spain, served with pride and a goodly dollop of "Dutch sauce" (Hollandaise) in the beer halls.

Spargel w Hollandaise at Donisl.JPG

Price is steep enough, about ten bucks for a half dozen exquisitely tender stalks, worth every penny. Such a pleasant change from the weedy, woody asparagus we get in Seattle, imported from Peru. Globalization: Yakima Valley farmers can't compete with South America's lower labor costs.

UPDATE: three or four Spargel sellers in the Altstadt today have added the first locally grown, hothouse asparagus. Price is 10 euros per kilo (about $6/lb), double the rate for imported.

Heading back to Paris shortly. Will see if the glorious white asparagus from Argentueil has made it to the markets. Hmm. Might have to wait around another couple of weeks ...

Moon over Munich.JPG
Marienplatz, München

Posted by Ronald Holden at April 2, 2007 1:59 AM

Yakima Valley asparagus should be coming out any day now. There is a specific asparagus season and its rather short, when it's not in season we get it from California or Mexico. I'm not sure that I've ever seen Fresh Peruvian Asparagus in the market up here, maybe in fall when you should not be eating asparagus anyway. Its true that some production went south with the free trade pact signed with Peru, but not fresh asparagus. What happened was Del-Monte moved their canning operation from Yakima County to Peru. Of course it does not really matter where canned asparagus is made, it really only matters with the fresh stuff. And now almost all of the remaining asparagus acreage is devoted to fresh (or some pickled or made into tempura at Stokes Burger Ranch in Sunnyside.) So it's kinda better this way.

To the best of my knowledge there is no real difference between Green and White asparagus. What you have to do is pay someone to go around and pile dirt on the asparagus as its coming up, this bleaches it and makes the flavor more "delicate" (meaning a more neutral medium to dump Hollandaise Sauce all over). As you can see this makes it twice as expensive.

How do I like mine? Well, just steamed really quick with a pat of butter. Or made in the Vietnamese Fashion, Braised quickly with caramelized onions, garlic, and a generous splash of Nuoc Mam (Fish Sauce.)

Posted by: P.Kezele at April 10, 2007 10:01 AM

You break my heart with longing! For all my favorite places you are roaming and where I would love to be: Salzburg, Munchen, Paris -- the mounds of white asparagus so high in the April markets you can't see the head of their seller behind the fragrant table dripping stalks and soil.

Miss it! and only get to be in chilly Chicago in April for the IACP. Thanks so much for all your bloggy goodness.

Posted by: Emily at April 2, 2007 11:56 PM

Loved that you mentioned there is a huge difference between that meltingly flavorful white asparagus of Europe and the silly stuff we get here in Seattle in sheeps's clothing. But a young man's spring fancy could be more than just asparagus, at least I hope so.

Posted by: Sally McArthur at April 2, 2007 7:38 AM

Tres chouette la photo de Marienplatz, c'├ętait juste le moment opportun !

Posted by: Sabine F. Bodet at April 2, 2007 2:16 AM