The asparagus princess, a shy teenager named Nicole Cybin, had an exalted place among her peers: In Germany, Spargel, or white asparagus, reigns supreme among vegetables. Every year the German people eat 140,000 tons of asparagus, nearly all of it the white variety. German farmers devote more land to Spargel than they do to cabbage for sauerkraut. From April until June, you find white asparagus on the menu of nearly every restaurant, prepared almost always the same way: boiled and topped with hollandaise or brown butter, served with a side of boiled peeled potatoes and a plate of sliced ham, smoked salmon, or schnitzel. What is it about this colorless vegetable that drives Germans crazy?