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What exactly is Spargel?

For those of you familiar with our menu, it comes as no surprise that Spargel is a staple in our house throughout the month of May. Each year we celebrate Spargelzeit (white asparagus time) by creating a special menu dedicated to this gorgeously delicate (and decadent) ingredient! Spargel of course is how you say 'asparagus' in German, and especially the white variety is a sought after item throughout Europe. The worlds' populuation of spargel is grown throughout France, the Netherlands and Germany, and is near impossible to find in the States. So here at Affäre, not only do we fly ours in weekly, but we also offer dishes to our guests to take home and serve to their guests within their own homes. You should try some of Chef Martin's White Asparagus soup! Spargel first made an appearance in the German culture in the 16th century, cultivated near Stuttgart, and until the 18th century was said to be a luxury item only to be enjoyed by the wealthy. In the 19th century, cultivation of Spargel grew and the asparagus industry caught up to the demand for the product. Farmers in Germany grew the industry to meet the demands of not just their homeland, but most of Europe as well, thus leading Spargel from a luxury item to a household must-have.

It is estimated that 82,000 tons of spargel are grown in Germany each year. And because spargel is made of 95% water, it is very low in calories (only about 70 in one pound). It is also high in potassium, folic acid, vitamins C, B1 and B2. If you're trying white asparagus for the first time, don't expect it to taste anything like its green brother. Spargel is much softer in texture and a bit stringier than green asparagus. It has a much more subtle, delicate flavor and you'll soon be able to tell why so many people go crazy over it. Join us on May 1 to celebrate Spargelzeit!

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