Beelitz (dpa) – “Royal vegetables”, “white gold”: Asparagus is often honored. But in the meantime, criticism of the hype surrounding so-called precious vegetables has also become a tradition.
White asparagus is then denigrated as a piece of wood or stringy nonsense from the earth, which only tastes good with the inevitable hollandaise sauce – “Schlotze”, as satirical figure Gernot Hassknecht calls it today.
The fact is that millions love asparagus and look forward to it every year. But in Germany’s asparagus republic, many shake their heads at the ill-shown love for him.
Around a third of adults think that too much attention is paid to white asparagus in this country, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the German Press Agency.
Asparagus is a hype in the media, say 32 percent. Nearly half (47 percent), on the other hand, find it “good as is.” The remainder did not respond, or respondents (6 percent) would like to see even more attention paid to asparagus. Finding: White asparagus is a very important vegetable for the German mind.
The asparagus season in Germany starts in March/April and lasts, at least traditionally, until Midsummer’s Day in June (June 24). Vegetables are often marketed regionally: in Baden-Württemberg, for example, Schwetzinger asparagus is popular, in Berlin and Brandenburg it is Beelitzer, in Bavaria Schrobenhausener, in North Rhine-Westphalia Münsterländer.
According to the survey, 64% of adults in Germany like asparagus, while 13% do not like it at all. Women (68 percent) like asparagus more often than men (60 percent), older people much more than young people (people over 55: 74 percent; 18 to 24 years: 47 percent). More than half (53 percent) look forward to asparagus season every year, 15 percent “not at all.”
With or without hollandaise sauce
Of those who like asparagus, 62 percent prefer to eat it with hollandaise sauce (a sauce made with egg yolks, clarified butter, salt and pepper), followed by natural butter (22 percent). 9 percent prefer to eat cooked asparagus without sauce or butter. The rest take it in another way or do not specify it.
According to the Federal Office for Food and Agriculture (BLE), the per capita consumption in Germany was mostly around 1.7 kilograms. 25 years ago it was around 1.3 kilos.
Due to its high water content, asparagus is low in calories, but at the same time rich in vitamins and minerals. For many, urine smells remarkably strong after consuming asparagus. This is due to the breakdown of aspartic acid, a sulfur-containing aromatic substance in asparagus.
In ancient times, the Greek physician and teacher Hippocrates described the plant as a diuretic remedy. Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine also attribute positive powers to asparagus. The Romans made asparagus a delicacy and a cultivated plant about 2,000 years ago.
Sealed fields and harsh working conditions
Even if today a lot of asparagus comes from Greece, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands or even Peru and China: the local asparagus, which is almost always aluminum asparagus, is particularly popular. Giant sheets transform fields into plastic deserts for months. Environmentalists complain about the garbage and that those fields sealed as habitat for birds and bees are no longer available.
In addition, the harsh working conditions of cheap wage earners in the fields are always a problem and spoil some of the enjoyment.
2020 was a record year for asparagus, says a spokeswoman for the South German Asparagus Growers Association in Bruchsal. It was a bit more difficult in 2021, but nothing due to Corona. “Spring 2021 was quite grey, cold and wet. There was little asparagus at the beginning of the season and therefore prices were quite high. Only at the end of May/beginning of June did the temperatures rise and with them the harvest volumes”.
In 2022, the producers “assume a good year of demand”, since the weather is good and the restaurant reopens as usual. “People have to catch up. Apart from inflation, the current conditions are good for asparagus consumption.”
The only thing that can really spoil asparagus season for hobbyists is woody asparagus. Only 3 percent still find it “delicious”, 8 percent “edible”, 12 percent were indifferent. Woody asparagus is considered “not tasty” by 44 percent and “disgusting” by 33 percent.