When perusing Lucullian Delights, a blog by a Swede living in Italy, I discovered a fun weekly activity called Weekend Herb Blogging. This means writing about any green thing (herb, plant, vegetable or flower) that makes in onto your weekend menu or into your thoughts. Then someone hosts a recap of everyone's blogs on their own blog. This week's host is Ilva from Lucullian Delights.
To see the weekly recap, click here.
I think it's a fun idea so my first WHB is about last night's dinner: asparagus.
Back in 1999, I tracked down some long-lost relatives in Slovakia and went to Bratislava to meet them. Jozef and Viera (and their kids, also Jozef and Viera, but more easily identifiable as Jožko and Vierka – and not to forget Vierka's husband Karol) were the perfect hosts, filling me in on some of our family history as well as showing me around Bratislava and introducing me to strange and wonderful local cuisine.
On the Sunday, we journeyed north of Bratislava to their summer house (chata) in a place called Sekul, on the border of Austria and the Czech Republic. On the way they asked me when my birthday was and I shyly explained that it was on that very day. Immediately Jozef pronounced that they'd make me a birthday lunch, so he stopped the car and ran over to a small stall on the side of the road. I watched him buy huge bunches of asparagus and when I looked out over the fields I realised the rows of willowy crops were actually asparagus growing by the road side.
When we got to the chata, Viera trimmed the asparagus, which was so fresh it had dirt still clinging to it, and then I watched her turn it into a summer soup. I was a little nervous at this point, because I had never liked asparagus before, and I was loathe to turn down a dish that was prepared especially for my birthday.
On the first taste, I was in heaven. The soup was so light, creamy and fragrant with the fresh asparagus that I couldn't believe I didn't adore asparagus before. I ate it greedily and probably asked for a second helping. It was a wonderful discovery and something I'll always thank my Slovak relatives for.
There, amongst Slavic blood brothers, picturesque man-made lakes and abandoned WWI bunkers hidden in long green grass, I became an asparagus devotee.
Even though asparagus isn't in season in Sydney at the moment (usually in season August to March), our local green grocer is selling some excellent bundles – green, firm and tinged with purple. Last night Jonas softened them on a smoking griddle pan with olive oil, rock salt, freshly crushed black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Simple and delicious. Báječný!