Growing up in Germany, I looked forward to the spring spargel harvest. That’s when delicate stalks of the white asparagus that grows throughout western Europe (and gets its ghostly pallor from a covering of dirt that prevents photosynthesis) would turn up everywhere from roadside stands to restaurants. Some would offer it pureed in creamy soups or marinated in salads. But the preparation I liked best was served in the dining room at our village’s guest house, where it was blanched and doused in brown butter and lemon. I remember well its earthy, nutty flavor, and the crisp crunch of each ivory-colored spear. These days, in the States, I search my local farmers’ market for spargel from April through June, when it’s in season, hoping to find a stalk or two so I can relive the pleasures of those childhood meals.
In Germany, spring means spargel season