BERKELEY (KCBS) – A reference to asparagus on an Egyptian panel dating to 3000 B.C. attests to this vegetable’s lengthy history. In ancient times, asparagus was known in Syria and Spain; Greeks and Romans ate it fresh in season and dried it for use in winter.
Most important for us in the Bay Area, springtime is when fresh, local asparagus comes on the market. It’s usually in season from mid-April until mid-June.
So, which to choose, the skinny stuff or the fat stalks? The answer is entirely a matter of personal taste.
Some people prefer the real skinny asparagus, which certainly has the most grassy flavor. Joe Carcione, the Greengrocer of radio and television in the 1970s and 1980s, used to just call thin asparagus grass.
The real fat asparagus stalks are sweeter and more delicate in flavor, but whether that’s better than the skinny is just a matter of personal choice.
Once you get it home, here’s a way to make it last a little longer in the refrigerator.
Shave off the very bottom of the stalks, just cut off 1/8th of an inch or even less, and stand them up in a plastic container or a bowl with maybe a half-inch of water in it. Keep it like that in the fridge, and you’ll get a few days of storage without a lot of hassle.
When preparing it, I like to cut off and discard the white part at the bottom of the stem. Anything that’s sort of purplish, I’ll peel off with a potato peeler. Too much gets thrown away if you just snap it off because of how it tends to break.
Finally, in terms of value, asparagus tips sold on their own are usually less in price than the whole stalk. Plus you get to eat the whole thing without the waste.
Narsai David is the KCBS Food and Wine Editor. He has been a successful restaurateur, chef, TV host, and columnist in the Bay Area spanning four decades. You can hear him Saturdays at 10:53 a.m., 12:53 p.m. and 4:53 p.m., and at 2:53 a.m. Sunday on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.