Goodbye to the root vegetables of winter, which frankly, were starting to become a bit boring and a big hello to this vibrant vegetable which marks the start of summer for serious foodies.
Asparagus has been grown and used both as a remedy and a food for centuries. The first mention of asparagus is in the earliest surviving recipe book written by Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Roman gourmand who lived about 2,000 years ago. Widely cultivated by the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians, it soon spread all over Europe as people were enchanted by this unique vegetable. Latvians, due to no fault of their own, are still relatively new to asparagus although it featured in our great-grandmothers' cookbooks. However, in his wisdom, Khruschev decided that asparagus fields should be replaced by corn and all but wiped out its cultivation during the Soviet era.
Happily, those days are long gone and my asparagus farmer, Jānis, is nurturing 20 furrows of delicate spears which are being grown exclusively for Vincents and for AirBaltic Business class passengers. Asparagus needs to get from field to table in the shortest possible time to preserve its flavour and before the natural sugars turn to starch and the asparagus dishes on our menus will be superb!
As a luxury vegetable it is probably one of the most expensive in the world. I'd be willing to bet that asparagus featured at Wills and Kate's wedding banquet along with the lamb and crab. It is one of the few foods that is correct to eat with the fingers, and indeed that is the best way to savor its taste. There is something quite sensuous about eating it this way and it is said to have aphrodisiac properties. That’s possibly why it was banned by the nuns who taught in girl's schools in the 19th century
Used, in ancient times as a medicine to cure everything from toothache e to impotence, asparagus abounds in Vitamins A, a bunch of B's, C, E, folic acid, calcium, is rich in anti oxidants and has next to no calories or fat, and zero cholesterol.
Try out asparagus from the new Vincents menu.