Asparagus Season at Last

Posted on November 19, 2008



Enough rain has finally fallen to summon the long-awaited winter growth that transforms our Galilee hills.  Ron and I set out on our afternoon walk and to our surprise and pleasure were immediately greeted by a fresh new growth of wild asparagus.  Most of the stalks were too young and thin to pick so we left them to add to their girth.  But just the sight of those graceful purple-green stems poking up out of the earth was enough to put joy in my heart.

There are few things I would rather do in life than gather wild asparagus.  The bushes grow under the oak and pistachio trees that cover the hills around our home here in the Galilee. But not every bush conceals an asparagus stalk and it takes a carefully trained eye to spot them as they are well camouflaged.  After so many years, my eye is quite developed, although Ron usually sees the ones I miss. 

asparagus-1Asparagus season begins just after the first rains of winter – this year in mid-November – and ends around March or April.  At that point, when the rains stop falling and the heat brings the snakes out of hibernation, our walking route moves from the hills to the paths crossing the cultivated fields. 

It is a quiet, meditative activity – trolling the grassy hills for those elusive stalks, seeing but not seeing the rich variety of winter growth coaxed to life by the first rains of the season.  Here and there, half hidden in the overgrowth, are pieces of limestone hewn into shallow grape and olive presses – evidence of the people who lived here in ancient times.  I am determined this year to find out more about their origins.

Snapped off stems show that people have been gathering before us.  We take only the amount we plan to eat the same day – as many as we can each hold in one hand.   This first batch we prepared steamed in salted water, drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.  Well worth the 8 month wait.