When the first spring sun winkles out young grass and spring flowers, especially Istrian orchids begin to sprout from warm Mediterranean crimson land, it is time for asparagus harvest. In Istria, this wild, bitter plant has been unavoidable spring grocery of every dining table from mid of March until mid of May. Due to that it became a genuine symbol of this region, together will well known truffle, prosciutto, malvasia, teran and extra virgin olive oil.
Unnoticeable barbed plant
Asparagus harvest in Istria has for long been a tremendous pleasure which all the lovers of this activity are being very aware of in early spring. With a stick in one hand and with good portion of asparagus in other, you will notice them by country paths, roads, in the woods…anywhere the wild asparagus, generally unnoticeable barbed plant which offers delicious shoots, sprout.
While picking asparagus, which can become a real addiction since you always hope for bigger, thicker or nicer sprout, it is very important to find a place where other pickers haven’t set their foot yet, and best places to search are by paths and ways where you can prowl in deeper thicket. Namely, you cannot pick or even spot an asparagus only by observing asparagus shrub from above. To pick this valuable shoot, one has to bend under the shrub and move aside old spiky branches to find fresh green sprouts.
This is just the way the asparaguses, which is the Greek word for shoots, are being picked in Istria for centuries. It is one of the oldest wild plant in Mediterranean, being picked ever since ancient times, first by Egyptians, then by Greeks and Romans. They believed in its healing properties, which is why they used it as cure for toothaches and insect bites. Interestingly, Romans were the ones who cultivated asparaguses to enjoy in its taste regardless the spring season. Some cultures even consider it as an aphrodisiac.
Vegetable source of folic acid
Aphrodisiac or not, asparagus for sure is one of the healthiest groceries a Mediterranean nature can offer. It is the best vegetable source of folic acid, also containing vitamin C, and minerals like sodium, phosphorus and iron. Its preparation is very simple – it is sufficient just to flush it under water and break it in smaller pieces from top towards root until the part where it became stiff. Only soft parts of asparagus are being used for preparing meals.
In Istria, the most popular traditional asparagus meal is fritata. It is being prepared in the simplest way taking only 10 minutes of your time.
Shortly stew previously broken asparagus on olive oil and then add a scrambled egg. After fritata is done, sip on it a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and the dish is ready. Besides with the top oil for which the Istrian peninsula is famous for, this meal goes along greatly with Istrian vines, especially Istrian teran, an indigenous type of wine from this area.
On the menus of istrian taverns
In springtime, the asparaguses are unavoidable on the menus of numerous Istrian taverns and restaurants. Besides fritatas, they have main role in soups, salads and different types of pasta, while they go along greatly with seafood and meat dishes. They taste extraordinary with top wines produced, cherished and mellowed in Buje cellars, like far known Kozlović, Coronica, Clai, Degrassi or Kabola, but also many more excellent winemakers from this part of Istria. Also, while enjoying asparaguses don’t forget to taste one of the World’s best olive oils standing side by side with those from Tuscany in famous World guide of olive oils, Italian Flos Olei.