This past Thursday, Spärgelzeit, or aspargus season, officially began in the German state of Brandenburg. From having been in Germany in early June years ago, I can tell you from personal experience that asparagus is something that Germans take very seriously. Germans adore their asparagus, particularly the white variety. It’s rather amusing, particularly given how serious the Germans tend to be, and how whimsical they get when it comes to one of the funnier, dare I say, more phallic, items of produce that they commonly refer to as the ‘King of Vegetables.’
There’s asparagus with everything, and it’s especially common in conjunction with ham, potatoes and massive quantities of butter. The linked article entertainingly pointed out how one cannot escape the stench of asparagus urine in any German restroom during Spärgelzeit, and it’s referred to as the ‘great leveler.’ How droll. Germans even go so far as to crown Spärgel Königin (Asparagus Queens) in major asparagus producing towns.
All whimsy aside, I think it’s great that Germans still take seasonality seriously. In the industrialized food systems we take for granted, we sometimes forget that there’s a time and a season for all food, and for as funny as Spärgelzeit may strike us, it carries a point: asparagus is tasty, and there’s an agriculturally appropriate time for getting the best ones.