Healing Kitchen

Roman emperors had special fleets to deliver fresh asparagus to their spring tables from the far corners of the Empire. King Lous XIV of France proclaimed this most aristocratic vegetable the "food of kings" and had gardeners growing it in the royal greenhouses for his year round enjoyment.

Like robins on the wing and bright yellow daffodils, these vibrant green (or off-white) tender shoots have always heralded the arrival of spring and were only available a few weeks per year. They were scarce and expensive, and were only served very ceremoniously at the grandest spring occasions.

Today, we are almost as fortunate as Louis XIV because modern farming methods and high-speed delivery systems have made asparagus available just about all year, including the fall and winter holiday fests. Compared with other fresh vegetables (in or out of season), fresh asparagus is still relatively expensive. It continues to be very much a star and is inevitably the center of attention on its own, whether it is simply steamed or oven roasted, then lightly dressed with a little olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and a couple grinds of black pepper. The addition of asparagus to other dishes can raise their status from delicious to divine. Even with year-round availability after a long and lingering winter asparagus remains one of the recurring glories of spring.

Date Published: 04/02/2003
> Printer-friendly Version