Germany goes no-holds-barred nuts over Spargel every spring. Spargelzeit starts around late April and always ends on the 24th of June. In those eight weeks, white asparagus is featured prominently in supermarkets, in farmers’ markets, in the Mensa (university cafeteria), in restaurants and cafes, on the covers of food magazines, and in the dining sections of newspapers. In wine stores there will likely be recommended bottles to go with your Spargelessen; a fruity white works best. There’s even an episode centred around a Spargel harvest on the long-running murder-solving TV series Tatort, a beloved German institution that’s been airing on Sundays at 20:15 since 1970.
Last week I went to a friend’s house to make my first ever Spargelessen. I’ve had it a couple of times in the Mensa, a somewhat lacklustre affair, but never made my own. At the twice-weekly farmers’ market in Hoheluft/Eppendorf I got 2 kg thick-stalked Biospargel (organic) that came from the Lüneburger Heide near Hamburg. I also picked up 1.5 kg new potatoes, still smelling sweetly of soil.
One traditional northern German preparation is boiled, wrapped in proscuitto, and served with boiled new potatoes and hollandaise sauce. So that’s what we did. Yum!