Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy Asparagus Season

The Chi-city farmers markets are up and running. It’s early, of course. This week was heavy on baked goods and potted herbs. As for produce, it was mostly about asparagus - thick ones, thin ones, purple ones, green ones. I have never tried the purple ones. James Peterson's Vegetables cookbook reports the purple ones turn green when cooked and taste the same as well. I chose a few bunches of thin stalks and served them up alongside lamb burgers last night.

I didn’t see the white ones that Europeans like so much. The white asparagus (spargel, in German) isn’t albino; it’s deprived of light while being grown. Cauliflower lacks color for the same reason, but with white asparagus the effect is achieved artificially by keeping a cover of dirt on the stalks. No light means no chlorophyll and no color. To read more about the glories of white asparagus (and find recipes) check out Delicious Days - a food blog run by a couple in Munich.

After years of grilling asparagus and losing a few through the grates I now only roast them on a baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper (400° for about 7 minutes). So delicious and simple.

The only thing I dislike about asparagus is the strange smells it causes in [insert your favorite word for pee, wee-wee, tinkle or urine here]. I had long understood that people digested asparagus differently and were either excretors and non-excretors of asparagus metabolites (sulfuric compounds). Further, not every excretor could smell the metabolites, breaking down the excretors into subgroups of perceivers and nonperceivers. But an Israeli study showed while all individuals excrete chemicals that make the urine smell, only about 40% can smell the chemicals. If you enjoy asparagus and have no idea what I’m talking about than you’re likely a nonperceiver. Or at least further along on the evolutionary chain for keeping your head out of the toilet.

Fröhliche Spargelsaison!


Unknown said...

Hi Katie! We have been eating a ton of asparagus here! The CSA I belong to delivers it every week for the past 4 weeks! Also everyone is roadtripping toward Norwood and picking their own wild asparagus! The only thing growing in our 70 degrees one day, snowy the next spring time up here. Our new favorite way to eat asparagus is preparing it exactly as you mentioned and then topping it with goat cheese right out of the oven and letting it "melt" into a wonderful "sauce". Christian is the biggest fan of this preparation, but we've turned some non-asparaugus eaters onto it this way! Happy eating! Kristine

Katie Fairbank said...

I think I'm going to have to try your goat cheese idea pretty much immediately! thanks for a fantastic tip!

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