For Germans the Spargelzeit, or the white asparagus season, is an eagerly anticipated sign of spring. Depending on the weather, the season for asparagus begins some time in April and lasts until St. John the Baptist’s feast day June 24, and during this time the country is gripped by ‘Asparagus Fever’.
Everything comes with asparagus in the restaurants, the farmer’s markets offer abundance of asparagus (most of which is white, not green as we are used to in USA) – small and large, and any other supporting products that are used in the making of the asparagus dishes, like the Hollandaise sauce. The Hollandaise sauce is the main and most popular sauce used to serve the white asparagus with, and, to tell you the truth, it goes very well with it. It can be bought in a box or made at home from scratch.
The Germans consider asparagus – a royal vegetable that is why it’s served in some of the best restaurants and homes in the country.
However, it wasn’t until it was discovered in Asia that asparagus was even considered to be ‘edible’.
The History of How White Asparagus Tradition Has Become So Prominent in Germany:
Around 2,000 years ago, green asparagus spread from Asia to the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea where it became a delicacy.
At the time the word ‘asparagus’ was used by the Greeks for most stalk type vegetables but eventually described just this one, which the Romans transported, together with many other plant species, when crossing the Alps to conquer northern Europe’s ‘uncivilized’ tribes.
However, there was a time when asparagus fell out of favor. It was after 300 AD and it was ‘gone’ until the 11th century, when it was brought ‘back’ to existence after it’s been used as a medicinal herb usually grown in German monastery gardens and prepared by monks.
But it wasn’t until the reign of Louis XIV – the French Sun King – who found asparagus to be up to his taste, that asparagus regained popularity in Europe as a luxury vegetable reserved for the tables of nobles and the various royal courts.
Then in 16th century Germany ‘Spargel’ began to be cultivated around Stuttgart, and gained a nickname, ‘The Royal Vegetable’, because, as in France, it was only available to the nobility. But it was only a matter of time before all the Germany fell in love with asparagus. By the middle of the 19th century it was popular with all levels of society. The ‘Spargelzeit’ – Asparagus Season – had become and up to this day a huge event that is celebrated throughout the country. It’s all the farms that grow asparagus come every day to the main square of the towns to sell it to the public and restaurants, but when all the restaurants that offer German cuisine make up a ‘seasonal menu’ for the months of the asparagus season that is called “asparagus menu’, featuring all kinds of dishes with the asparagus.