14 May 2009

Skinny Asparagus Is Stupid

I totally stole the title of this post. There used to be a food & recipe column in the Village Voice, like a really long time ago, because I'm like really old. It was called "Waiting For Dessert" and ran under the pseudonym Vladimir Estragon. Get it?

Actually it was written by Geoffrey Stokes, who was a pretty good writer on music and other stuff, but I really liked the food column. It's where I picked up the trick of sweating onions in the butter that becomes the white sauce for a macaroni and cheese - it gives it a nice depth of flavor.

Anyway, once upon a time, he titled a column "Skinny Asparagus is Stupid" and went on a tear about the relative values of fat and thin asparagus. I'm firmly in the fat stalks camp, but they can be hard to find.

It's asparagus season right this very minute, and it's all over the greenmarket, but most of the vendors have it bundled into convenient pre-weighed one pound bundles so you don't get to pick big or little. But yesterday, someone had it loose! And not only was it loose, they had a lot of really fat spears. I stood there teasing out the fattest of the fat, until I had a pound and a half of them, and it was only 14 stalks! The biggest is an inch in diameter at the base.


We're having a feast tomorrow.

32 comments:

the mama bird diaries said...

i really like thin asparagus. :)

i am very mary said...

one time i tried to make a bisquick dish called "asparagus puff ring". it took me six years to eat asparagus again.

painted maypole said...

i get it. ;) of course.

but I don't get the onions in the butter thing. Do you do that before or after you pour the package of orange powdered cheese in?

flutter said...

I like any asparagus...as long as it is wrapped in bacon.

Pinky said...

Moky really hated that skinny asparagus. Really, really hated it.

ophelia rising said...

Excellent! And I LOVE the picture.

Aspagagus is wonderful in all forms. And I actually made a mac and cheese casserole last night, adding shallots to the roux. I would highly recommend them, too. :)

niobe said...

I'm the only one in my household who likes asparagus of any diameter. One would think that would mean "more for Niobe!", but, in practice, it just means that I usually don't buy it. Sigh.

heidi said...

never met an asparagus that I didn't like. Hubby doesn't like the skinny ones, because they fall into the grill.

Gwen said...

I prefer thin asparagus myself. But, trust me, I'll eat any size asparagus if it's in front of me. What's funny is I'm working on a post called "Onions are Assholes". So we have stupid asparagus and assholish onions. Interesting. :)

Frogs in my formula said...

I like asparagus but never knew there was a difference b/t fat and skinny stalks. Sigh. There's so much ground to cover in the kitchen.

alejna said...

Hmmm. I tend to go for skinny asparagus, because it cooks faster. Plus I tend to expect the fat ones to be tougher. Have I just not been giving them a chance? Are the fat ones more flavorful?

(I had to guess at the pseudonym joke, having not seen the referenced play...but the magic of Wikipedia helped.)

Julie Pippert said...

Mmmm more skinny asparagus for me!

(And the joke? No, right over my head, I am afraid. But, I'm sleep-deprived.)

Elisa said...

Hmmm, I love asparagus! with butter and Parmesan, and an egg on top. Or in risotto. Or in a frittata, with mushrooms and grated Gouda. Drats, now I'm hungry. Let me see if I have any asparagus ;-)

Rima said...

I don't get the joke or the merits of fat asparagus! You will have to explain both for the feebleminded :)

YourFireAnt said...

Do you mean to say that you've never stood at the produce case pulling out all the fat spears and substituting skinny ones to make up your bunch? [or, of course, the converse if you're the fat spears type.] ??

C'MONNNN...!

de said...

I have found that my market sells either skinny ones or fat ones, never a mix. Always pre-banded. Just this year I changed from the skinny camp to the fat camp.

Aunt Becky said...

*drools*

susan said...

I like my asparagus medium, myself, but I have to say that one of my favorite parts of your photo is the ruler. I love those old rulers with business names on them. I still have a ruler with the name of the hometown bank--long since turned into a Starbucks--where I first opened a bank account in my teens, and a ruler with the name of an insurance company in my college town (which contributed the ruler to the welcome boxes we got as first year students. Not sure what an insurance company thought it was going to do in cultivating freshman students, but I still have the ruler.)

slouching mom said...

Yum.

The LIbrary Lady said...

The thin spears overcook and I don't think they're as flavorsome.

I find Christopher Kimball of "Cook's" to be a know it all dork, but I get their "America's Best" e-mails and they had a suggestion for taking the woody ends of the spears, simmering them in stock and using them in risotto.

I tried it in a risotto based on one in Barbara Kafka's "Microwave Gourmet". Risotto with asparagus, peas and SHRIMP. Heavenly!

Woman in a Window said...

You are measuring your asparagus. Are you ok?

Ree said...

Mr. Hot brought home a bunch of the biggest asparagus I've ever seen. I almost asked him, "What the hell are you thinking? Thin is the way to go with asparagus", but I held my tongue.

Now, I'm glad I did. Because I'd hate to have to eat my words...

Cold Spaghetti said...

I had no idea there were "thin" and "fat" preferences for asparagus. If I say I've got no preference, does that mean I'm open to diversity, or among the culinary challenged?

nonlineargirl said...

It is a step removed from the greenmarket, but our local natural foods grocery makes huge bundles of asparagus that are worth 2 meals. Yum!

cactus petunia said...

I love asparagus, thin or fat... but I sure wish it didn't make my pee smell so bad!

Kyla said...

I hate asparagus (I'm a ridiculously picky eater, I have the culinary range of a toddler), but Josh loooves it. He would be quite jealous of those!

jen said...

man. i love asparagus. i can't get it here. and i love it.

man.

Marinka said...

I love asparagus and I've seen it growing--pretty amazing. I love it thick and thin. I'm very nondiscriminatory like that!

Life As I Know It said...

Yum! I love asparagus, but my husband and kids do not...

phd in yogurtry said...

My dad used to run a business where asparagus farmers (and tomato, bell pepper, corn, you name it) would drop off payment by the bushel full. Sometimes it was asparagus. Plenty of fat stalks. You would have been a happy camper.

I never liked it, though. Boo hiss boo, I know. I did have some skinny asparagus grilled a few years ago and to my surprise I found it "ok". Hubby doesn't like it so I don't bother with it.

BOSSY said...

But thin asparagus is tender! But Bossy will take it any way you serve it, although, please gah, not tonight, because = BLOAT.

alejna said...

I'll have you know that last time I bought aspargus, about a week ago, I picked out a bunch with big thick ones. And they were ever-so-yummy! Thanks for showing me the error of my ways.