Like a little kid on Christmas, my anticipation is high for one of the best times of the year in Germany- Spargel Time! When spring is finally here with budding daffodils and blossoms on the trees, it also means it is time to enjoy the seasonal white asparagus (known as Spargel in Germany).
Mysteriously Popular Vegetable
When I first moved to Germany, I just didn’t understand how a vegetable could get so much attention and excitement. I would drive on the Autobahn and on small roads and see huge Spargel signs with arrows pointing to little wooden shacks.
Then to add to my amazement of it all, there would also be a huge line of people at the shack waiting for this mysteriously popular vegetable! I just didn’t understand it. And sadly the only thing I could compare it to in the States was during my first trip to the south, and I saw cars zipping into Krispy Kreme with a lit of sign saying ‘Hot Donuts.’
While we are familiar with the green asparagus in the States, this is a white asparagus which is grown slightly different. Here in Germany the white Spargel is grown surrounded fully by dirt, preventing sun from hitting it and thus turning it white. You can see the Spargel mounds in fields which are covered with a white cloth. Being covered like this during the growth, it gives the plant great flavor while being rich with nutrients. So it is healthy and delicious… a win/win!
Spargel time is an actual range of dates this white vegetable is available, leading to why it is in such high demand. Depending on the weather, the season starts mid-April and ends on the 24th of June. The special vegetable is not allowed to be harvested after this date in order to preserve the crop for next year and its quality.
We Live in Spargel Land
Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony are the epicenters of Spargel awesomeness. There are even scenic Spargel routes in which the Baden route runs through Schwetzingen, Reilingen, Karlsruhe and Rastatt.
The town of Schwetzingen is proud to be the “Spargel Capital of the World.” Like many German towns, Schwetzingen hosts its big Spargel Fest on June 11 from 10 a.m. to midnight! Here you can of course eat Spargel all day, listen to live bands, drink local favorites and watch the Spargel peeling contest (yes that is a real thing!).
And one of the main highlights of this prestigious event is the crowning of Miss Spargel (yup, that is a real thing too), the queen of the fest.
This luxurious vegetable is not new to the vegetable world. Spargel goes back to as early as 2000 BC and was consumed by Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In fact, the oldest documentation of how to grow Spargel comes from Stuttgart dating back to the 16th century!
When you buy Spargel, the key is to buy it fresh and use it that day. Some advice on what to look for would be to make sure the stems are crisp, firm and have a nice smooth texture.
I was to told that you can tell if the Spargel is fresh when you can hear a “squeaking” sound when rubbing the starks together. And if you would like to eat/cook Spargel the next day, they can be kept fresh by wrapping them in a moist towel and placing them into the refrigerator.
Not Really a Chef?
If you are like me and would rather go to a restaurant for your Spargel dish, you will be pleasantly surprised with the amount of options. The basic dish will come with melted butter and potatoes. And you must try it with a side of Hollandaise sauce, because it is so delicious! Meat lovers can also order Spargel with ham.
My favorite Spargel dish is the Spargel soup! If this is on the menu, any discussion of what to order is immediately over. The answer is always Spargel soup! My other half, who is also the chef in the relationship, made Spagel soup for dinner and I was in Spargel soup heaven!
Where to Buy Spargel
Below are a few places you can purchase Spargel in the Kaiserslautern, Stutgart and Wiesbaden areas.
Ernst & Funck- Ramstein Saison
Saturday: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Kaiserslautern- Trippstadterstr Saison
Trippstadter Straße 125
Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thursday-Friday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Spargel & Obsthof Wendel
Nordenstadt Globus Ostring 2 (Globus-Parking lot)
Monday to Saturday: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Nauroder Str. (B 455) / Ecke Bayernstr.
Monday to Friday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and German holidays: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Schwetzingen Spargel Fest (Inner city)
June 11: 10 a.m. to Midnight
Author’s Profile: Gemma is a mom, a veteran and an Army civilian living in Wiesbaden, Germany. With New Jersey roots, she is enjoying her extended European vacation.
Featured Image Photo Credit: © Pixabay-Ronile