Friday, June 16, 2006


The season for asparagus (asparagus officinalis) is short, roughly from the beginning of May till the 21th of June. Of course, this being The Netherlands, the first date is highly dependent on the wheather. The latter one is quite fixed, though.
These six weeks don't go by unattended. Every restaurant with only the slightest culinary aspirations serves asparagus as amuse, soup, starter and main dish. Butchers sell 'special' asparagus ham and in every magazine you'll find advertisements of Alsatian wine. Shelfs in supermarkets are crammed with instant sauce Hollandaise. The asparagus themselves are neatly packed in plactic, kept well dry and laying in wait for us for days.
Did I say 'plastic', 'dry' and 'days'? No wonder supermarkets need all their marketing skills to get us to buy these sad, dried out, wooden sticks. As Diny Schouten rightly wrote in her Het spek van slager Blom. Over wat er nog te eten is (Butcher Blom's pork. About what is still there to eat, Pereboom 2003:41), one can only eat asparagus if bought directly from the farmer.
We are happy to have one nearby in a staunchily Roman Catholic (!) village, who sells his asparagus the very same day he has harvested them and until that moment keeps them in water basins. No dry ends here.
As we do not have anything against a good Alsatian wine in any season, we let our meal be accompanied by a terrific 2004 Riesling by Zind Humbrecht, found in what we thought to be a cheese farm, but which was actually a well assorted wine and cheese shop in that same pious - and rich - village.

Asparagus the Dutch way

Take 500 gr white asparagus per person. Cut off ca 2 cm from the cut end. Peel the asparagus and cook them (with cut off ends and peeled skin - gives more taste) in water for about 10 minutes (depending on thickness). Eat with slices of cooked ham, hard boiled eggs (chopped up with a pinch of nutmeg), melted butter and potatoes (traditionally boiled, but do bake them if you like a bit of bite among all this fluffy stuff).
Do not throw the liquid away but sieve it and keep it frozen to make a risotto with grilled green asparagus after the 21th of June.


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