THE LUSCIOUS white asparagus of France and Belgium are grown under mounds of earth to prevent them turning green (in much the same way Belgian endive is grown). I can remember in the late ’60s tasting this delicately flavored vegetable for the first time and wondering why we didn’t grow it in the United States. Ten years later Paris restaurants were proudly offering green asparagus on their menus in March. Heralded in the press as the first asparagus of the year, they were arriving from California by air.
Green asparagus, fresh from the garden or farm, are sweet, tender, and delicious. The season is short, so when you find locally grown asparagus in the spring, eat them as often as possible. Although imported asparagus is now available in most areas year-round, always check the label for the country of origin. Out-of-season fresh asparagus may look good on your plate, but if it has taken a long time to get there, the flavor may be disappointing.