I could not help but notice the very human characteristics being displayed by this particular bunch. It is clear to me that there is leader, head and shoulders above the others, who is holding court to this sycophantic bunch of young shoots. The majority gaze adoringly at his bowed, patrician head as he dispenses wisdom, hanging on his every word and, indeed, around his neck. However, as in life, it is clear that all is not sweetness and light. Two dissidents have turned their backs on Caesar Asparagus, the Brutus and Cassius of the bunch. Their plotting will be in vain as fate, which role I am playing in this drama having assumed the form of a brightly coloured rubber band, a far cry from Zeus’ swan or shower of gold but more practical in a kitchen, has bound them irrevocably together in readiness for a hot communal bath which could not be more apposite for such a classical bunch.
Bunches of green asparagus, tagged with outrageous prices, have already begun to appear in the shops here. The green variety seems to be a rarity in the Vendée as the appetite for white and violette asparagus is enormous. To my mind, green asparagus is at its best when served in the simplest way. An asparagus cooker is not an essential piece of kit, but it does do the job well, as the base of each spear is cooked in a bath of boiling water whilst the stem and tip are cooked by steam. Such asparagus should be served with melted butter and little more. I do have a taste for another dressing which is made by beating together hard boiled egg yolks, olive oil and seasoning. Just delicious.
As I mentioned before, white asparagus is very popular here which means it is readily available and much cheaper than its green brethren. White asparagus takes a good deal longer to cook than the green variety and, if it is not cooked sufficiently, is not worth eating at all. The violette tipped variety behaves in a similar way as far as cooking time is concerned but is slightly finer and doesn’t need to be peeled. I particularly enjoy this with hot, herbed butter and prosciutto.