I had asparagus for breakfast this morning. I didn’t plan to have asparagus for breakfast. It was supposed to be part of dinner last night, but I forgot to cook it, and this morning there it was. I rinsed it and cooked it. That and a handful of almonds, and I was set for the day.
It’s a miracle that I like asparagus. My mother used to boil asparagus until it was practically gray. The result was slimy, mucilaginous spears that came apart when disturbed by a fork, except for the woody ends. My reaction as a child was: yuck. I only ate it for the mayonnaise.
After I left home I learned that you could cook asparagus lightly, and have tasty, crisp spears with a little field crunch left in them. You could pick one up in your fingers and eat it without mayo or anything else. Mmm…yummy.
I also learned that in preparing asparagus, you were supposed to pick up a raw spear by the ends and bend it until it broke, and throw away the segment of the spear below the break and cook the segment above the break. That lower piece was the woody part of the spear. It is called woody because trying to eat it is like trying to eat a stick of wood.
When I finally got around to asking my mother why she boiled asparagus for so long, she said, “To get the whole spear soft.” She did not break or trim asparagus; she rinsed it off and cooked it whole, and she cooked the edible part to paste in an effort to get the woody part soft enough to eat.
I understand this. Asparagus is not cheap. Everything in the heart, soul, and mind of a depression kid would rebel at the thought of spending so much money on a vegetable, then throwing away half of what you bought.
Of course there was a generational taste preference involved, also. There seemed to be a cultural belief in the 50s that vegetables were meant to be boiled into submission. The first time my husband and I served my mother stir-fried vegetables she took a bite and exclaimed, “They’re raw!” Rick and I looked at each other and said, “Uh-oh.”
We have come again into hard times. Hard times are relative, of course. An American hard time would be considered pretty deluxe by many of our fellow earthlings, who live in a poverty that we cannot imagine.
But that is not my point. My point is that when times get tough we indulge in economies, and some economies are false economies, such as boiling the whole asparagus spear until it is no longer good to eat in any part, assuming you can afford asparagus in the first place.
So my sermon for today is this: seize the day and don’t boil the asparagus too long. If you don’t have as much as you did, enjoy what you have. That’s all.