It's spring in Germany which means flowers are blooming everywhere, trees are lush and full of green leaves, and many of us are sneezing and wiping our runny noses from all of the pollen in the air. But the most prominent sign of spring in my opinion is that every single menu is featuring a dish with white asparagus or Spargel. Spargel just means asparagus, but when the Germans say it, they only mean the white kind. I've seen the green kind in the market as well but everyone here is mad about the white stuff. And it's everywhere; every super market, every farmer's market, on every menu. These people are obsessed.
Germany even has multiple Spargel Queen competitions this time of year. Here we have this year's winner of the Beelitzer Spargelkönigin competition from Beelitz, Germany, about an hour south of Berlin. She looks dashing in her gown with matching clutch and of course the obligatory basket of Spargel.
Her name is Lara Luisa Kramer and SHE ALSO HAS A SPARGEL CROWN!?
The German variety of asparagus is not only white but it's fittingly way larger than the lanky green stalks from California I grew up eating. It's so thick it almost looks like the white part of a leek or a white sausage. A hefty albino sapling, if you will. It's grown underground and never sees the sun so it never gets the chance to photosynthesize and therefore has no chlorophyll which, as you might remember from school, is what makes plants green. So, basically, it's like the vampire of the vegetable world.
From the menus I've seen around Berlin it looks like the traditional German dish is Spargel covered in Hollandaise sauce and served with maybe some ham or schnitzel and potatoes. Here is none other than Martha Stewart with a recipe if you feel so inclined to try it.
Personally, I'm not thrilled about the look of white asparagus smothered with hollandaise. It's far too beige for my liking and I try to keep my consumption of foods in the khaki spectrum to a minimum. Also, covering what was originally a healthy vegetable in Hollandaise seems a bit pointless to me, oxymoronic, like jumbo shrimp. However, I did have some Spargel soup recently that was delicious.
Spargel is even famous on social media. A prominent Swedish chef I follow on Instagram Magnus Nilsson posted a beautiful photo of a tip of asparagus emerging from the Earth, signaling the beginning of spring for Northern Europe and his photo got 16,640 likes! That's pretty outstanding for a vampire vegetable.
I recently went to Stockholm for the weekend and saw they also had Spargel for sale everywhere. But obviously it's not called Spargel in Sweden but rather vit sparris or white asparagus. It's hard to read but the label says that this bunch was grown in Holland.
However, seeing as they have no Spargel Queen, or any Spargel monarchy in place at all for that matter, neither Sweden nor Holland could possibly be as serious about Spargel as Germany. And, since Queen Lara is the one and only, I'm pretty sure this means both countries and possibly the whole world are under her reign. So long live the Spargelkönigin Lara and may her Spargel kingdom be victorious, happy, and glorious!