Asparagus was a favorite of ancient nobility. According to legend, the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus enlisted the help of top-tier military troops to track down this elusive vegetable. When he found the quickest runners, he’d have them transport fresh asparagus stalks to the icy Alps, where they could be stored. Many other civilizations have interpreted the symbolism of fresh-sprouting asparagus as a sign of fertility, including the ancient Greeks, who gathered the wild variety and linked it to the goddess of love, Aphrodite.
A custom in Ancient Greece’s Boeotian region is to put a “chapel of asparagus” around the bride’s head after she is veiled because this plant produces some of the best flavored fruit from the toughest thorns, and so the bride will provide for him who does not run away or feel annoyed at her first display of peevishness and unpleasantness “a docile and sweet life together.”
Five thousand years ago, the asparagus plant was shown on an Egyptian frieze with Queen Nefertiti supposedly a fan. Archaeologists discovered asparagus residues on dishware when excavating the Pyramid of Sakkara, as well as figs and melons, which were highly prized. This vegetable was regarded as holy in this society and was employed in religious rituals.
Asparagus footbaths were given to visitors of honor in Ancient China. A poet called Apuleius fell head over heels in love with a rich widow named Pudentilla almost 2,000 years ago. He wooed her with a unique dinner that included asparagus, crab tails, fish eggs, bird’s tongue, and dove blood, knowing he had to go all out. He was accused of wooing her with the use of black magic. Although he was able to adequately protect himself, asparagus has a magical quality!
While in Rome for a fasting period, Emperor Charles V (1500-1558) of the mighty Habsburg Empire caused a stir by showing there unannounced and without notice. Three asparagus dishes were commissioned by a cunning cardinal. It is stated that the emperor was a fan of the delicacies served to him for many years to come, and the dishes were placed on fragrant towels.
If you wanted to delight the Sun King, Louis XIV, you might deliver Madame de Maintenon a fresh asparagus recipe from a French monastery 600 years ago. Soup a la Maintenon, which she wrote about, is still much sought after today because of the recipes she collected.
Asparagus has been served at Easter feasts for generations because of its rapid regrowth in the spring. A Curious History of Vegetables by Wolf D. Storl contains most of the material in this essay, as well as countless additional asparagus incidents.
There is a quote in the book by modern-day plant expert Fritz-Martin Engel that perfectly capture the types of people who have enjoyed asparagus throughout history: “Pharaohs and Emperor have eaten and eaten asparagus with great enthusiasm. Great spiritual leaders, princely poets like Goethe, and gourmands like Brillat-Savarin.”
Growing and Harvesting Asparagus
Asparagus is a vegetable that takes its time to grow. When the weather warms up again in the spring, it bursts out of the ground, announcing the beginning of the new season and absorbing the nutrients it needs.
“Spring Tonic for Weary Appetites” was the headline of an article in the New York Times in 1956. Because of its high nutrient content and low-calorie count, asparagus is a great spring tonic. It may also develop quickly. A harvester may feel that he or she can just sit back and let the plant develop. In the morning, you may start chopping asparagus, and it will keep producing throughout the day.
In addition to the common green color, asparagus can be found in a variety of lovely hues including tones of purple and pink as well as white. It’s also critical to safeguard the plant’s root system, no matter what color it is. See how delicate we must be? Plant three-year-old roots in the ground first. Only harvest the asparagus root for one week if it is in its first year of growth (actually it is in its fourth! ), to preserve its root strength. For the first time in two years, the only choice for two weeks. If you wait until it’s four years old, you’ll be able to harvest it for extended periods. Because a healthy plant may live for up to twenty years, it’s critical to give young ones plenty of time to develop.