May is a beautiful month in Germany because blossoms are popping out all over, bringing new life and color to our eyes, tired of winter gray. May Day is coming up and young lads will place brightly decorated May trees at the front doors of their sweethearts. As you drive down the street, you can read their names written on a big heart attached to the tree – and think lucky Ingrid or Sabine or Uschi – someone cared enough to make them a May tree. Young love. While they are focused on May trees, I have zeroed in on “Spargel Saison” – asparagus season. Yum. White asparagus. Heaven.
White asparagus grows underground, which is why it stays white, but it is by no means just a sun-deprived cousin of green asparagus. White asparagus is juicy and sweet, tender and tasty and with a different texture than green asparagus. As far as I have discovered, it is quite special to Germany and a few surrounding countries. An American friend who once lived in Belgium told me she tried white asparagus there but didn’t care for it – it was too tough and chewy. This seemed a bit strange to me and I felt the need to defend each beloved stalk. I asked her how she cooked it. “Did you peel it?” “What, you have to peel it!” And therein lies the secret. Unlike green asparagus, white asparagus has a tough peel so you need to go to the store and get yourself an asparagus peeler before you indulge. It isn’t exactly easy to peel but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad, and there are even places that will sell it to you and peel it. Just make sure you eat it the same day for ultimate freshness and taste. If the ends are too dry, it’s likely been lying around too long.
Although I love to eat white asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, I also find it delicious in risotto. Not wanting to discriminate against it’s green cousin, I dice up small pieces of both green and white asparagus for my risotto. After sauteing the onions, I alternate chicken broth and white wine until the risotto is tender. I add all of the asparagus and freshly grated parmesan, and crunchy bacon. This is truly what I have been waiting for all year. Mmmm. Many people eat their white asparagus with new potatoes and ham, also delicious and I am sure there are many ways of eating this treat that I have not yet discovered. The main thing is – go out and get some fresh white asparagus if you are living in Germany, and for goodness sake – don’t forget to peel it!