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Royal Asparagus and the Value of Food

2019, May 6 | A Practice For Spring

STORYTELLING: Regally crowned asparagus has long had pride of place on our dining tables. The Greeks believed asparagus to hold sacred values and used it medicinally. The Roman legion spread the spears throughout Europe with their imperial conquests and consequently, for much of its history asparagus was produced only for royalty. There is no question that asparagus has long been considered a luxury. Why?  I suspect it has to do with our reverence not just for veggies, but for all of the natural world. 

When asparagus peeps through soil in late April to early June, it is one of the most exotic first foods of the harvest to arrive. When asparagus arrives so too do the first signs of how abundant the growing season will be. Renewal, rebirth, new life and a letting go of the anxiety of the winter preserves needing to last much longer are what our ancestors would have experienced. Is there any reason we should celebrate asparagus season any more than that of any other food? What would happen if we ate in a way that paid rapt attention to the season of every food that graced our plates? How much more tuned into nature would you need to be to even notice? 


That is the Beginner’s Mind question that will aid you in your nature relatedness practice by expanding your curiosity and helping you build your fluency in the language of nature – a language you intuitively know as nature is not something that is OUT there, it is IN you. Cooking and eating can be a way to remind yourself that you are intricately connected to the full cycle of life. 

Ritual – Simply Royal Asparagus Salad

Rituals are how we turn thoughts into actions and reinforce our values.  When cooking is as much about the process as it is about the end product, you can create moments that help to reinforce your intent to enhance your identity as a part of nature.  Tell stories, consider beginner´s mind questions, use all of your senses as you cook and you will be creating mindful moments that enhance your well being and eventually will transition into more eco-friendly habits by default as you see yourself as nature, in constant exchange with life cycle that you can see and that which you cannot. 

Asparagus is the most noble of foods. But, let´s bring it down to earth. Here is a super simple salad to prepare to enjoy the earthy flavour of your asparagus and as you do, ponder why it is we celebrate the coming of asparagus season so and how our relationship with nature would change if we paid as rapt attention to the seasonal cycle of every food we ate. From veggies to fruits to fish to meat to dairy – to EVERYTHING there is a season. 

This recipe varies depends upon how much asparagus you get your hands on! Prepare asparagus for steaming by popping off the woody  Enjoy the sound of the snap! The asparagus will naturally break where the tenderest bit starts. In a large pan, lightly steam the asparagus (2-3 minutes for skinnier spears, 4-5 minutes for the thicker ones) and lay out evenly on your kitchen counter to cool. Chop the asparagus into thirds and toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and voila, this dish is done and ready to serve in a simple fashion so that you can really lean in, enjoy the flavour of spring.  Consider the bitterness of the asparagus and how that reflects its determination to grow in weather that may be warmer than winter, but, hey, probably not as warm and toasty as you would like to thrive!