This afternoon I was invited to participate in the local tradition of gathering wild asparagus from the woods. Along the way I was happily distracted by vistas and old cars, kiwi plantations and wildflowers, young ferns and an ancestral springhouse which was built by my hostess’ family long ago to grow watercress and is now part of the nearest village’s patrimonie.
By the time I got home with my haul of wild asparagus under one arm, I found under the other that I had also somehow managed to acquire an equally wild new bantam rooster from one of the neighbors, to the consternation of my most Loved One who greeted me at the door with a disapproving look. But he’ll get over it. Omelettes with fresh-picked spring greens are great at keeping the domestic peace, and the new bantam is a fabulous coq frissé with backbrushed feathers: The Las Vegas Showgirl of mini-chickens. I’m sure they’ll grow to love each other. The new rooster is already happily ensconced with us by the fire alongside the dog, who is loving the company. I won’t divulge to the poultry just yet what we are actually eating this evening with our wild asparagus…
I should add that there is some discussion among the locals about which is the actual asperge sauvage of the many similar edible plants in the woods this time of year. But I just picked what they told me today, and ended up with a heap of beautiful greens for our omelette. The taste of this particular tendril is fresh and springy, but not like asparagus at all. One older woman this afternoon whispered to me that the real thing, the wild plant that is in the actual asparagus family, is quite strong and that this tastes much better, real or not.
A true taste of French woodland spring: Bon appetit.