Having settled down in Germany meant that I had to get used with a lot of new foods. If wurst and various meat-based choices were out of question for obvious kosher reasons, I was left with the vegetable part. Not all of the plants and vegetables from the supermarket counters were completely strange to me. For instance, the rhubarb, was something I used to taste as a compot or cake filling long time ago in my childhood. The asparagus, though, was one of the 'wow' moments as until seven years ago I knew asparagus only as an apartment plant with leaves looking like the dill and no kitchen use. Curious about this culinary fashion, that lasts usually from April until beginning of June, I visited various famous asparagus fields around Berlin and tried to prepare some at home too, once in a while. To be honest, I am still skeptical about it, but traditionally, once the year I tasting some, just for acculturation reasons. This year, I went one step further and learned abou the big differences between the green and yellow asparagus.
The most popular in the shops and kitchen is the yellow, in Berlin, the one growing up in places like Beelitz. This is the kind I am trying often, with boiled potatoes and salad, dill or parsley, with Bechamel sauce or just butter. You should only boil it and serve it fast. For carnivores, the schnitzel is a good match too. The yellow asparagus soup is a popular dish in the German homes, but till now I never tried it.
The colour comes from a light deprivation process that took place during the growing stage. No chlorophyll is produced and the result is a tender asparagus, with a sweet taste and easy to cook: boiled for a couple of good minutes.
The green asparagus is more expensive and less prevalent in Europe. Growing up fully exposed to light, it takes more time to boil and has a strong vegetable taste. The lower part does not need to be removed as in the case of the yellow one. I tasted it the first time more intensively this Pesach, in a good combination with duck. Was a delicious choice, as the fresh texture balanced the greasy taste of the duck. I can suggest serving it with rosemary and sweet or regular potatoes, with salmon or some salad combinations.
In the next week, I will try to offer my own asparagus cooking experiences, so stay tunned...
What about you, do you have some favourite asparagus dishes to recommend?