It is white asparagus season in Germany. I’d seen it in jars in the US but had no idea exactly what makes white asparagus white and would never have known the reverence of the Germans for this vegetable if I hadn’t been here during the season, April to mid-June. It is featured on many menus, we had spargel soup, delicious and certainly enhanced with lots of butter, schnitzel with spargel, and spargel in salad. Whenever it is served, it is the highlight of the dish. Unlike our green stalks, often slender, these are uniformly fat and of the same length. Their flavor is mild.

Spargel in the supermarket

Spargel in the supermarket
Spargel at the Saturday market in Berlin Spargel at the Saturday market in Berlin

“White asparagus are those that haven’t yet broken the surface of the ground and haven’t yet been touched by sunlight. They are harvested when the tips of the asparagus plants just start to lift the dirt on the ground’s surface. They remain white because they are not yet exposed to sunlight. White asparagus are particularly mild in taste and are a favorite of Germans.” http://www.germanfoodguide.com/spargel.cfm

The white asparagus that I had at several meals was good but I don’t think it has nearly the flavor of our asparagus but it is clearly an important harbinger of Spring in Germany.