It's Spargel Season!
What on earth is "Spargel"....you may be wondering??? Some sort of budget supermarket hair cream??? No, it's actually the German word for asparagus.....pronounced something like "Schpaargeyel".....but not the asparagus like you get at posh British dinner parties....i.e. green and quite small and thin....The German aspargus is huge, and creamy WHITE, and rather resembles a part of the male anatomy! :-) No wonder the Germans' nickname for it is the "royal vegetable"!! It tastes OK, mainly because you smother it in Hollandaise sauce. It can be a bit bitter and stringy....But really, in my humble British opinion, it doesn't have such an AMAZING quality that it warrants two months of German mayhem!! When it is harvested in the spring, Germany goes asparagus crazy!!! They hold parties....town festivals for weeks!!!! Today, I even saw they were selling it at the petrol station!!!!! A huge hand written sign outside with a big arrow pointing towards the bounty. How can a vegetable cause so much annual excitement? Can you imagine a similar situation....say.......in Hull, people lining the streets, to celebrate.....the Hull "Celery" Festival.....or the Exeter "Brussel Sprout" Extravaganza... a bronze statue of a woman grasping a basket of brussel sprouts taking pride of place in the city centre like the bronze statue in the town of Schwetzingen near Heidelberg... why have a statue of Elgar or Churchill when you can have one celebrate a cruciferous vegetable?......Schwetzingen is famous for several things such as its beautiful castle, but mainly because of the quality of the asparagus... My greatest challenge during the Spargel season is feigning excitement at lunchtime if spargel is on the menu at work....after all, I don't want to be a party pooper!! If someone checks the lunch menu and Spargel is there, they will talk about it for two hours beforehand. How their mother makes it, how their mother's mother made it, how their best friend's mother-in-law made it, followed by comparisons of the pros and cons of various asparagus cooking gadgets. If one of my German friends comes up to me jumping for joy screaming "There's Spargel for lunch", I have to dig deep into my feigning excitement reserves to muster a convincing "NO WAY....ECHT COOL....." especially when the description from the dodgily translated lunchtime menu reads as follows: "Feel well and stay fit – asparagus marinated in vinaigrette sauce with egg" I will have some this year....it would be impolite not to!!