Asparagus - "White Gold" in the merry months of May and June
The scene is North or Central Limburg. The sun is slowly rising, the fields bare. Then, men and women appear on the scene in the first light of dawn, carrying baskets on one arm, cutters in the other hand. They start the tiring job of bending over double and carefully cutting out seemingly invisible stalks from the soil and then smoothing the earth back again with the base of their metal baskets.
This is the start of the asparagus meal. This white delicacy is easier to prepare than to harvest. White asparagus is "gourmet" food, thicker, more tender and much tastier than green asparagus. The white asparagus season begins early in May and the last shoot must be cut before the sun goes down on June 24, St. Jan’s feast.
For many of you, asparagus is an accompaniment, used in salads, soups, or quiches. But in the "white asparagus" areas of Holland, and for seven short weeks, it is a main meal in itself and is served warm, with potatoes, slices of ham or pieces of salmon, and hard-boiled eggs with lots of melted butter.
If you’re in Holland in May or June, be sure to look for "asperges" on the menus of the better restaurants. The VVV in Limburg has special "asparagus" packages, including overnight accommodation, admission to the National Asparagus Museum in Locht and delicious asparagus dinners. An entire "White Gold" route can be worked out to fit your taste buds.
VVV Asparagus Arrangement
6300 AV Valkenburg a/d Geul
Recipe for the pure white Dutch asparagus:
- 1 kg asparagus
- 4 hard-boiled eggs
- 8 slices cooked ham
- or 4 pieces cooked salmon
- springs of parsley
- 100 g butter
Cut between 1 and 3 cm off the thick end of the asparagus, then scrape off the tough outer skin with a sharp knife to within about 2½ cm from the tip. Put the asparagus in a large pan with enough boiling, salted water to just cover them and boil them gently for about 45 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid for soup. Arrange the asparagus on a warm dish and garnish with halved hard-boiled eggs, rolls of ham (or pieces of salmon), and springs of parsley. Melt the butter and serve butter and nutmeg separately. Delicious with boiled new potatoes.
Tips: Serve with Pinot Noir wine.
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