smak restuarant feature blog

Not everyone can smell asparagus urine. That, and other asparagus trivia you may not know.

Monday, December 4th 2017

I come from a German and Italian family. It’s no secret that food and drink formed a major part of my upbringing, I’ve written about some of my history here and here before. There are some ingredients that have stuck in my memory more than others and asparagus is definitely one of them.


This vegetable made its way into more family meals than I care to remember. My family were never big drinkers but now that I know asparagus can be a powerful hangover and detox tool it’s no surprise this veggie accompanied meals where wine and beer were on offer. Turns out, my family is pretty wise. Eaten before or after a night of drinking, the enzymes and key minerals in asparagus can help to protect your liver by breaking down alcohol and alleviating those dreaded hangovers. It’s just a pity that asparagus is only in season for such a short time, otherwise, it would make its way into every one of my meals when I know there’s going to be wine flowing!

white and green asparagus
To say that Germans LOVE asparagus is the greatest understatement of all time. They seem to be most passionate about white asparagus. I previously thought it was a different varietal but turns out it’s just normal asparagus that’s grown with no light, either covered with sand or underground in tunnels. The darkness ensures that there is no development of chlorophyll. If you remember from school, that’s the green stuff.

White asparagus
I found a number of other interesting asparagus trivia, and thought I’d share them below:

  • Asparagus is packed with vitamin E which might stimulate the production of sex hormones and increase your libido. I won’t share any personal thoughts or experiences here, you’ll have to try it for yourself
  • It’s rich in antioxidants which are known to help the fight against the aging process
  • Asparagus contains no fat or cholesterol so can be eaten without fear of weight gain or health concerns. Best just not drench it in melted butter as tempting as it seems
  • Asparagus is a springtime vegetable and only in season for a short amount of time. Once summer really hits and it gets too hot, that’s it. They’re gone. They come out quite early in the season though, the first harbinger of spring in the vegetable kingdom
  • The female plant bears red berries. They’re pretty but the energy used to make little berries means less actual asparagus yield. For this reason, the main commercial asparagus varieties are genetic male clones
  • There are over 300 varieties of asparagus but only about 20 are edible
  • Chromium is a trace mineral found in asparagus. It helps insulin transport glucose more effectively into the cells for energy. This is particularly important as excess sugar in the bloodstream can, over time, cause many health concerns

I’ve only got a couple of weeks left to enjoy this vegetable before summer really arrives and so my partner-in-food, Chef Devin and I made asparagus one of four heroes in our seasonal dinner happening next week Thursday, 7 December. I would love to see you there! You can email me on info@smak.co.za to book your table.
Dig in,

Katia Scherf

Co-founder and chef at smak delicatessen and restaurant

References:

  • https://www.thelocal.de/20140509/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-asparagus
  • https://modernfarmer.com/2014/04/10-surprising-facts-asparagus/
  • https://www.nutritionpath.co.uk/single-post/2017/05/18/4-fascinating-facts-I-bet-you-didn%E2%80%99t-know-about-asparagus

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