The Art of Asparagus
By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers, FreshBaby.com
Asparagus derived its name from the ancient Greeks. But it was the Romans who were hooked on this vegetable. They documented detailed growing instructions, they enjoyed eating it in season, and they were the first to preserve it by freezing. Fast chariots and runners took asparagus from the Tiber River area to the snowline of the Alps where it was kept for six months until the Feast of Epicurius.
Today, during the asparagus season every eatery in Germany, offers their regular menu and a "spargelkarte," a special asparagus menu that may list as many as 45 variations of this first spring vegetable.
While asparagus may be Germany's favorite veggie, in the US, we manage to eat our fair share of this healthy stalk. Folklore credits eating asparagus with everything from curing toothaches to being a reproductive tonic. A true food hero, modern science has found that asparagus is the second best whole food source of folic acid, a B vitamin that is associated with a decreased risk of neural tube birth defects and lowering risks of heart and liver disease.
According to the National Cancer Institute, asparagus contains a high amount of glutathione, one of the body's most potent cancer fighters. Additionally, asparagus is high in rutin, which is valuable in strengthening the blood vessels. Asparagus is also a source of protein, vitamin A and C, calcium and iron.
Age to introduce: 8-10 months (cooked and pureed).