The other morning, when the Chef and I were driving to work, we stared out at the window at the prickles of snowflakes hitting the ground. We looked at each other in confusion. And then we laughed.
Theres no explaining this fickle, freezing spring. These past few weeks have been like a small tired child, changing his mood every few minutes. Hes tired, and he just doesnt know what to do. And so, it hails, and then snows, and then the sun breaks through the clouds with one of those smiles that make you stop moving and just breathe it in. And then the grey clouds lower, and in the distance, black rain moves over the hills and starts falling on the neighborhood next to this one. From what I have heard, Seattle has not seen this kind of weather and especially this cold since the 1920s. Winter, we really want to be done with you. Why dont you just surrender and lie down for a nap?
Before we left the house, we had been watching that weeks episode of Jamie Olivers show. For more than twenty minutes, we sat and watched that ebullient man grow even more joyful for sitting outside in a summer garden. Enormous lavender plants, paths of thyme and oregano, and solid sunlight shining down oh my, the world really does look like that sometime. Little Bean kicked and kicked (you wont believe this, but LB really does kick during his show, every single week), and we beamed, thinking of what is coming this summer. And all show long, the lovely man made lovely concoctions with asparagus. Oh, we sighed together. Maybe someday asparagus will show up here.
That afternoon, as I walked into the grocery store where I was making a public appearance for the book, the Chef called me. Guess what I have? he taunted me.
Locally grown asparagus.
Oh thank goodness. We can finally eat it.
And when I hung up the phone, and walked through the produce section, I spotted some. Stalks of green, bunched together with purple bands, their woody ends resting in an inch of water. Almost as far as my eye could see asparagus.
The snow flurries outside no longer bothered me. Spring is here, dammit. Asparagus has arrived.
The Chef and I, were a little stubborn. California asparagus has been in the store for weeks. If we lived in California, we would have celebrated weeks ago (and probably have tans instead of pasty white skin). We both happen to think that asparagus grown east of the mountains in Washington tastes better than that grown in California. At least it does here. Eating asparagus that has been picked only a day or two before? Its bright green taste, the fibrous texture, the way the tips are tender and the stalks need a fork and knife to cut right through these are best when the asparagus has only recently left the earth.
Its here! Its here.
Later that afternoon, I stopped by the Chefs restaurant to say hello. He swooped a plate down before me: crispy seared halibut with soft white meat inside, lying on a bed of roasted asparagus. Drizzled on top of it all a thick balsamic reduction sauce in Jackson Pollock spatterings. Need I say how good it tasted?
Oh, but Im not focusing on that meal, as much as it lingered. Im just excited about every possible way I can eat asparagus for the next two months, now that it is here.
(Of course, asparagus has not shown up yet in the farmers markets. Snow keeps the farmers away. But soon, oh soon, Ill see what I saw in this photo I took last year stalks and stalks of asparagus in a white plastic tub. And since I waited until the end of the day to take a photograph of the bunch we have sitting in our kitchen, I was thwarted by the dreary rain clouds again. So let this photo be something to dream by, for all of us.)
What will you be doing with your asparagus soon?