Asparagus is here. The first true spring vegetable. Arranged in abundant bunches on the stalls of farmers’ markets all over town, straight out of an eighteenth-century Spanish still life. Gather me, it whispers. Bathe me in briny heat. Lick golden butter off my languid stems. Asparagus, evidently, brings out the Baroque.
“A lot of people think you should get thin stalks,” says Brian Zuckerberg, manning the John D. Madura stall at the Union Square Greenmarket. “Actually, the thicker stems have more flavor. So get the bigger ones. And don’t do the snapping-off-the-stem thing,” he warns. “That’s a way to waste a lot of asparagus. I’d recommend trimming the very bottom off, then paring with a knife until you feel the difference between the woody part and the stalk. When the knife stops going through easy, that’s where you want to make the cut.”
You can find asparagus on specials menus all over town right now — check out the asparagus topped with poached egg at Irvington (201 Park Avenue South).
How to eat them from your own kitchen: