Is it me or has there been something even more special than usual about asparagus this year? Maybe it's just because sparrowgrass is the "first" vegetable of the season, though I and others have pointed out that the fixed notion of a growing season is become a thing of the past. Or maybe it's because I live right over the river from the asparagus capital of the world.
My first bite of local asparagus several weeks back was, like so many experiences with genuine food, transformative. Eating seasonally also gives us the opportunity to forget something by the time it comes around again, making us that much more grateful for a taste of tomatoes, corn, green garlic or countless other crops that lose their ephemerality on the supermarket shelf.
Sure I've had great asparagus before. But there was just something about these spears. They were so fresh, so sweet, so cool and alkaline. They tasted like Vivaldi's "Spring," only more relaxed.
Sure grilled asparagus and broiled asparagus is great, but I'd only go there if I had more asparagus than I knew what to do with, and that has never happened to me and never will. I prefer a cooking technique that showcases the fragility of the vegetable: a brief steam or blanch. Just a few seconds too long and you'll loose the crispness, a minute too long and you might consider selling your olive-drab mush to Green Giant.
Sometimes we make asparagus omelettes (a word which I prefer to spell with as many letters as the dictionary permits). We don't cook the asparagus first; the radiant warmth coming through the eggs is enough. After letting the omelette rest, slice it up. Show off that cross-section of gorgeous, green o's and you may feel inclined to express some "oh's" yourself.