Wild asparagus hunt is on

By Martin Kirby

I say that I married Maggie because of her mum's fresh bread asparagus sandwiches. Imagine a wholegrain loaf fresh from the farmhouse oven, asparagus tips softened by steam then wedged with melting butter. It was a serious matrimonial moment when the asparagus bed passed away. So savour for a moment my delirium in discovering the abundance of asparagus here in the Priorat mountains, of the wild variety, as thin as a pencil but no less delicious. Easter is the time, and everywhere there are wise folk dawdling along the valleys, eyes down, a fistful of sprigs swinging by their side. Here at Mother's Garden, where no chemicals have been applied for more than two decades, the secretive asparagus, along with delicate grape hyacinths, prolific shepherd's purse and other assorted stars of the untampered soil, contentedly flourishes. Which made me wonder. How far north, or south for that matter, does wild asparagus take root? Is it on the increase or decline in the UK where, methinks, it used to be found only on rocky coasts in the south west? It is for me a champion of the cause for wild places: wherein lie the flavours and freedom for both the stomach and the hemmed in mind. Followed by a breakfast of it, floating in a tortilla of farm eggs.


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