And yesterday the first asparagus pushed up through the mulch (and, yes, these are purple asparagus. We have green, too). Asparagus and artichokes are the two perennial vegetable crops that get us through the end-of-winter gap. They always show up just in the nick of time (just a few freezer-burned bags of summer veggies left). That they are delicious, gourmet foods is a special bonus to the spring season. While we wait on the early lettuces, spinach, broad beans, and other crops, we will gorge on asparagus and artichokes.
Asparagus has been eaten for at least 5000 years, and I can imagine that it was an even more welcome springtime sight in the days before our modern food system did away with the lean periods of the year for many of the world’s inhabitants. Full of nutrients, it would have served to bolster people’s health in spring, just like the spring herbs like dandelion.
We always have plenty of food, with the supermarket making up any deficiencies in our own production, but we still feel that lean season. We crave fresh greens and fresh green vegetables. We’re tired of potatoes and pumpkin. So when the asparagus comes on and the artichokes begin to put up flower buds, it’s a cause for celebration.
So happy spring to everyone!