In her book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” Barbara Kingsolver entitles her second chapter Waiting For Asparagus. In it she states, “An asparagus spear only looks like its picture for one day of its life, usually in April, give or take a month as you travel from the Mason-Dixon line… For most crop species, the season ends when all the vegetable units have been picked and the mother plant dies or gets plowed under. Asparagus is different: its season ends by declaration, purely out of regard for the plant. The key to the next spring’s action is the starch it has stored underground, which only happens if the plant has enough of a summer life to beef up its bank account. Of all our familiar vegetables, the season for local, fresh asparagus is the very shortest, for this reason.” Kingsolver’s eloquent and exciting description of asparagus season echoed loudly in my mind last week as I wandered into the farmer’s market only to be met with bushels and bushels of fresh asparagus. I was so surprised and excited. After months and months of kale, cabbage, and sweet potatoes a new, long-awaited, yet short lived friend was in town! It wasn’t on my list that week, but I bought a large bunch of the delicious veggie, brought it home and cooked it up. Much to my husband’s bewilderment, I ate asparagus and only asparagus for lunch that day.
One thing I can say for certain, is that the more I begin to research eating real food, becoming environmentally conscious and homesteading the more excited I have become about simple natural processes like seasonal foods. Some may find that a very silly thing to be excited about, but in a world filled with pessimism, violence, and so much unhappiness we need more to be happy about… even if it is the simple sight of spring asparagus.
Instructions for cooking asparagus:
The key to properly cooking asparagus is to not cook it too much. lay your asparagus across the bottom of a large sauce pan and cover with water. Cover and bring to a simmer or light boil. Cook for about 3 minutes at a boil, drain and put on a plate to serve. I am a minimalist when it comes to asparagus seasoning so a little butter and a dash of salt work just perfectly for me.
I feel the same way… learning more about food and where it comes from makes me feel more in touch with the earth, the seasons and the natural rhythms of nature and makes simple things like the first asparagus seem exciting and amazing! Also, love Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, some incredible writing in that book. My favourite quote is when she’s talking about cheese-making and says “What kind of weirdo makes cheese?!” and how it makes her feel like a Wiccan!
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