Whether it’s green or white, the Swiss really love their asparagus. In particular though, it seems that white asparagus is especially sought after in the spring. This time of year, signs start popping up in restaurant windows about the arrival of asparagus. This year, I even saw an article in my local newspaper announcing the opening of the Swiss asparagus season. Overall, the average Swiss consumes about 1.3 kilograms of this vegetable during the year.
With all this excitement over Swiss asparagus, I decided to take a train to Kerzers in the canton of Fribourg to see the fields of white asparagus for myself. To find these fields, I walked part of the Sentier maraîcher (Vegetable path), which offers two routes: 25 kilometers (about 15 miles) and 45 kilometers (25 miles). Kerzers is a small village, and it only took me about 20 minutes of walking to reach the fields.
Unlike green asparagus — which is exposed to sunshine so photosynthesis can take place — white asparagus is grown underground in order to preserve its bleached white color. It takes a lot of extra effort to this do, which explains the higher price per kilogram for white asparagus. I saw prices ranging from CHF 10 to 16 — depending on the quality of the stalks.
At home, I typically make white asparagus soup, or velouté d’asperges, for my children. I’ve also tried serving boiled white asparagus in butter and topped with toasted bread crumbs, herbs and crisp prosciutto. For some reason, my kids seem to prefer white asparagus, so I’ll be continuing to serve this spring vegetable while it’s still in season!
Upcoming Asparagus Events in Switzerland
If you’re interested in visiting some asparagus fields or attending a festival focused on asparagus in Switzerland, here are some events coming up this month:
- Spargelfest 2016 (Kerzers): May 6-8, 2016
- Spargelfest (Jucker Farm, Seegräben): May 8, 2016
- Asparagus Market (Martigny): May 12, 2016
- Seeberger Spargelfest (Seeberg): May 21-22, 2016
What are your favorite ways to prepare asparagus? Do you prefer green or white? Please share your comments and recipes below or send me an email. Many thanks!