Heartwings Love Notes 1080 : A Spring treat that’s also Medicine

Heartwings says, “It’s true that food can be medicine, and asparagus is.”

My father ate asparagus with his fingers, picking up each stalk up by the end, dipping it in butter and slowly savoring its length. The end was always discarded. At fancy spring dinners my grandmother and my great aunt served asparagus on toast points–crustless toasted bread cut into triangles. There would also be hollandaise sauce or butter poured over the asparagus or served separately by a maid in a shiny black uniform and a starched white apron. This was eaten with a knife and fork.

In those days, coming only in the Spring, fresh asparagus was considered a great treat. My mother disliked canned vegetables and did not serve them, considering canned vegetables to be lacking in vitamins. Today frozen asparagus is easy to find and the fresh stalks can often be bought all the year round. However, it’s the local asparagus that is the real treat. Regardless of its availability, I only really crave it in the spring.

There is a reason it grows and is harvested early in the spring in New England: Asparagus has a wonderful effect on the body, gently cleansing the kidneys as well as the bowels. It serves the helpful purpose of helping us eliminate the leftover winter toxins from our systems. It is an important food that is also a medicine. It is delicious, can be eaten freely and will not cause any untoward symptoms. What a wonderful treat that something that tastes so good is so very good for you.

Euell Gibbon’s book Stalking the Wild Asparagus is a classic on foraging and eating wild vegetables. His description of how at the age of twelve he discovered the wild asparagus is quite enchanting. He admits that wild or tame, they taste the same, except for the thrill of finding your own wild harvest. Actually, this perennial plant, with the help of the birds who ate its seeds, originally escaped from the gardens where it was cultivated and proceeded to grow enthusiastically wherever it could. The wild stalks can be located by searching out the dried seed stalks. These look like feathery miniature trees that have dried up and turned to straw.

According to Mysterious Herbs and Roots, Mitzie Stuart Keller, Peace Press 1978, asparagus was once a royal food reserved for rulers and kings. A member of the lily family, it is related to chives, leeks, garlic, and onions. Wild asparagus, one of the oldest known plants, was believed to have grown in the salt marshes of Asia Minor thousands of years before the earliest recorded history and was unknown in Europe prior to 4 BC. Alexander the Great discovered it when he went searching in the land of Medea, where legend had it that she gave Jason of Argonaut fame the secret of eternal youth. High in vitamin E, it has been for centuries reputed to be an aphrodisiac and was treasured by rulers of many nations. The Romans maintained armed guards to protect their beds from thieves, while royal gardeners made money on the side from selling the seeds.

May you enjoy your medicine as food, and relish this spring treat.

Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert

PS Tales to tell or hints to share? Please write to me at tashahal@gmail.com It’s a great treat for me to hear from readers.

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