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29 April 2009

Spargel in the Spring

It's asparagus season in Europe! Apparently there are all sorts of asparagus festivals in Europe in the springtime. In Germany and Austria white asparagus, called "spargel" is particularly popular. Lovemuffin and Pricklypear wanted to join in the celebrations, so we found a restaurant with spargel specials. I got spargel with prosciutto and sauce tartare (similar to what is pictured here), and the Lovemuffin got green asparagus with ham and hollandaise sauce. Spargel and prosciutto go together well, the prosciutto being very salty, and the spargel being very not salty. We made pizza with spargel and mushrooms and onions, and that was good, although if we did it again I would add sausage as well. Spargel cream soup is pretty popular here. It was on the menu at the restaurant, and it is easy to find dry packaged mixes for 70 euro cents.

I've been learning a little more about cultivating white asparagus. While it is growing, dirt gets heaped over it, limiting the sunlight it receives. It does not develop chlorophyll, and so it never turns green. Strangely enough, the white asparagus stalks I've seen are really thick, at least twice as thick as those of green asparagus. This is interesting, because if they grow without sunlight, I would expect them to be weak and spindly, not thick and strong.

I also learned that asparagus has a large amount of purines, and purines are metabolized into uric acid, so people who have gout (uric acid crystals built up in the tissues, especially the joints) may experience an attack of gout after eating it. But on the other hand, purine-rich plant foods are less likely to cause gout than meats that contain high levels of purines. So unless you already have gouty arthritis, the extra purines are no reason to avoid asparagus! I hope this springtime brings you plenty of asparagus, whether green or white, or even purple!

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