Friday, 24 May 2013

Maastricht: Aspergeseizoen

In the province of Limburg, spring is synonymous with rainy days sprinkled with sunlight, luminous green fields stretching into the horison, pink blossoms on trees and bicycles, and... asparagus.
Locally, springtime is even referred to as "Aspergeseizoen" - Asparagus season. 

In stores, massive bunches of white and green are put on display, while restaurants devotedly adapt their menus to cater for the seasonal hype. "White gold", as the vegetable is called, is grabbed by the handful to concoct enough salads, pastas and soups to feed the adults and entertain the children for the whole weekend.

In the Northern parts of Limburg, festivals, "kopen en lopen" hikes, cycling routes, and open days are planned during the month of May - all in the spirit of the almighty asparagus.
"Asperge" is the word, and taste, on everyone's lips.

Asparagus Fever

At my local supermarket, I approached the display of various sizes and colours with a caution reserved for the unknown and unpredictable. In Jozi, I would briskly disregard the (tiny) packets of asparagus without a backward glance, but suddenly the display (and asparagus on display) were big enough to occupy, not a glance, but an open-mouthed stare. Some pieces were big enough to be deemed illegal in conservative communities. 
Even so, in the spirit of embracing new cultures and gastronomic experiences, I bought a bunch. Medium-sized, due to the volume and weight limitations of transporting them via bike. 

As luck would have it, this Netherlands spring consisted of the coldest temperatures in 112 years. Fortunately my fridge contained enough asparagus to nourish a small family for a week. 
White gold on a cold spring evening: Priceless.

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