Food for Thought
5:00 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Asparagus, Garlic and Scapes — Oh, My! 'Tis The Season Of Fresh Produce

We just can't figure out how those tulips got into our garlic bed, but there they are, poking their broader leaves up through the straw amongst the thinner but tastier garlic shoots.

Seeing them reminds me of the story in Charles MacKay's 19th century masterpiece, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" about Holland's Tulipmania. It concerns a sailor who returns from years overseas, unaware of the astronomical prices tulips had reached during that insane bubble.  Mistaking a bulb worth thousands for an onion, he eats it.

In this week's Food for Thought, Nancy Leson and I heave big sighs of anticipation over the fresh produce to come — for me, my 45 garlic plants and their scapes, and for her, local fresh asparagus. 

It wasn’t until I started growing my own garlic that I discovered what a huge difference there is between fresh garlic and the stuff you get at the grocery store. It really is like night and day. Nancy, who buys her garlic at the store, knows what I’m talking about, especially this time of year.

“Every garlic bulb I’ve opened has been dry, and has the green ugly thing in the middle,” says Nancy. “I’ve just been so disappointed, and it doesn’t matter whether I spend a lot of money, or a little money on garlic. It’s just very bad right now.”

Another perk of growing your own garlic: you get the scapes, which I sometimes use in place of green onions. Or sometimes I just sauté them as a side dish.

Nancy’s got her eyes on asparagus, and she’s been traveling far to get the best around.

“When I lived in New Jersey, oh man, [I’d] get the fattest, most gorgeous asparagus you ever want to see,” she says.

Speaking of asparagus, at the end of this week's installment don't miss the rock n' roll asparagus jingle I wrote and sang for the Washington Asparagus Growers with the band Little Stranger.

"In the spring, at the end of the day you should smell like dirt."

Margaret Atwood, "Bluebeard's Egg"