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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Spargel - German asparagus. Can't get enough of it!


I mentioned in a recent blog post about the German Spargel or asparagus and since then I have discovered some more interesting facts.

In Germany there are many local festivals to celebrate the harvest where you can eat asparagus prepared with great culinary creativity. Spargel and Flammkuchen and smoked ham are very popular as is eating the cooked item and having a cheesy dip or sauce with it, Hollandaise for example.
 
Many restaurants serve special Spargel dishes and it takes three years growing to produce. German asparagus in the most expensive in Europe. Some will be imported from France especially from the regions of Alsace neighbouring the German state of Baden Württemburg.
 
 

The white Spargel is the most popular and although the term still means asparagus it is more commonly used to refer to the white variation. The white asparagus is grown underground in knee high square banks of fine sandy earth. Thereby, no photosynthesis occurs, keeping the stalks from turning green and the white variation has a slightly softer, sweeter flavour.

It is still picked by hand in many regions. It is hard work and the vegetables are uncovered by hand and cut off at the stem with an asparagus knife. Broken tips fetch a lower price. A practised picker can harvest up to eight to ten pounds in an hours and most asparagus grown in Germany is from small family farms. It is known as 'the vegetable of kings' and once taken from the sandy soil the Spargel are sorted into size and quality and sent to the market that very day. The product's flavour and consistency are dependent on its freshness.
 
Spargel on Flammkuchen.
 
Whilst in Germany I was advised that the green asparagus is usually best when picked early because it gets woody and tough otherwise. Vitamin rich green asparagus has an even higher nutrient content than the bleached version. White asparagus can be grown for a while more and the thickness has no impact on the tenderness. One should always peel it before you prepare it. Fresh asparagus from a market can be pre-peeled but you have to eat it the same day. The straighter the stalk the higher the quality. You can even buy asparagus peelers in most super markets. They hang alongside all the other kitchen implements. I love looking around foreign supermarkets and could potentially spend hours jotting down all the 'alien' food products – but rarely do.
 
 
 

I had some delicious Spargel on a Flammkuchen at the Marktlücke café on Marktplatz in Karlsruhe. It was very tasty and the Flammkuchen is like a very thin pizza base. The view from their balcony isn't that interesting at the moment unless you like looking down on a big building site. The Pils was good too!

Spargel is also known as 'Joy of Spring' or 'Tender Ivory'. It is also part of the lily family and the botanical name is Asparagus officinalis. Eating it activates the kidneys and it has a diuretic effect from the aspartic acid saponin it contains. I.e. it makes your wee smell. Asparagus is 93% water. The things you learn on here!


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