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Germany: Stalking the wild asparagus

May 12, 2011|By Benoit Lebourgeois | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Chefs peel and trim asparagus at a food market in Mannheim, Germany.
Chefs peel and trim asparagus at a food market in Mannheim, Germany. (Andrew Cowin )

During the spring in Germany, menus of asparagus specialties pop up in restaurants fancy and plain, where green and white spears are served solo, sprinkled with butter and Black Forest ham or smothered by Hollandaise sauce. 

The locals favor the slightly sweeter and more tender white variety, obtained by keeping the budding asparagus covered in soil, deprived of sunlight and thus unable to photosynthesize.

Various asparagus-related events will be held through June. Visiting foodies in search of the succulent stalks can pursue special routes:

-- The Baden Asparagus Route meanders for 85 miles through the Baden-Wurttemberg countryside on the right bank of the Rhine River near Karlsruhe.

At farms in Graben-Neudorf, energetic travelers may lend a hand in harvesting  young shoots. The town of Bruchsal will hold an asparagus festival this weekend.  Worth a stop: Schwetzingen, the self-anointed asparagus capital of the world, which boasts a sculpture of Spargelfrauen, or asparagus woman.

--  With more than 450 miles of temptations between Hannover and Hamburg, the Lower Saxony Asparagus Route ought to satisfy the most driven aficionados.

Food specialties, certainly, are here. And so is also Nienburg, site of a museum devoted to all things asparagus, which will crown an Asparagus Queen for its festival Sunday. Kirchdorf will stage the Asparagus Cup, an equestrian event, Saturday and Sunday.

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