A Spare o’ Goose

And why asparagus is the quintessential spring vegetable

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Happy Spring, Gentle Reader.

To say I’m conflicted about this time of year is an understatement, like saying “Florida Man” gets up to a little mischief is an understatement.

It is my saddest and happiest time of the year.

Sad because the winter is over and sweater and boot season is essentially over (except cute rain boots).

Happy the winter is over because the air smells alive and fertile.

Sad the winter is over because the I enjoy the possibility of the occasional snow day.

Happy the winter is over because the wisteria along the highways is a free show to anyone who loves spring, purple, or flowers (and especially somebody like me who loves all three).

Sad the winter is over because this means the summer — with the heat and humidity which make me sweaty and frizzes my hair, which makes me cranky.

Happy that the winter is over because I can’t wait to use the outdoor facilities at my new home (but they really need to get a hammock).

Sad that the winter is over because I’m kind of dreading the walk to the car in the garage at my flat. It’s a four or five minute hike, and I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a sweaty nightmare quite a few times in the coming months.

Happy that the winter is over because my birthday falls slap in the middle of the spring.

Sad that the winter is over because I enjoy the holiday season like a sugared-up 6-year-old — slightly frenzied and probably too much.

Happy that the winter is over because my yearly birthday gift from the universe is the blooming of the most beautiful of the state trees, the North Carolina dogwood. As I drive down the street my gaze lingers like drag queen’s at a lace-front wig sale. It can be a little annoying to other drivers.

Sad that the winter is over because sweaters and boots, y’all!

Happy that the winter is over because gingham and cute sandals.

Sad that the winter is over because cars in the lots at car dealerships get hot like the fiery pits of hell in the summer. And the spring is the gateway to the summer.

Happy that winter is over, because of spring food. First and foremost is birthday cake. A quarter sheet cake from Dewey’s of Winston-Salem with old school roses and extra frosting to be exact. My favorite moment of my birthday is my first bite of that cake and the saddest moment is the last bite of the last piece. If you come to my birthday celebrations I have to offer everybody a piece. But if I ever offer you a second piece, I hold you in extremely high regard.

And local, springtime produce. There really is no more quintessential spring veggie than asparagus.

Delicious, yet so misunderstood and under enjoyed. The truth is, a lot of people, even people who eat and love asparagus, have never had the good stuff.

Years ago, I had a long talk with an asparagus farmer. Gentle Reader, I’d like to share some of the wisdom he shared with me.

The plant’s a perennial, meaning instead of starting a new plant every year, it grows year after year. Many people already know this, but it must grow for a few years before the spears can be eaten. But a healthy plant might last up to thirty years, with many happy springtime harvests.

But those pencil-thin, so-called babies?

That’s what you get with a weak plant, or one that’s lived a full life and now is played out. It is not, let me repeat this; not desirable. It will never get the satisfying snap of a correctly cooked spear, and quelle surprise; tastes grassy because there is a surfeit of chlorophyll.

My farmer friend informed me that the best asparagus is bright, healthy green, as thick as your thumb, with closed, dry tips.

Those restaurants that serve and grocers that sell those infuriating twigs are pulling the compost over your eyes. They’re not gourmet specimens, they’re skinny green lies.

And oh yeah, about that goose in the title? There’s no lurking fowl. Here at Chez Matthews, it’s just what we call asparagus.

Thanks for your time.

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