I’m back! Our plane got in yesterday from New York and I am still on a high from the trip; however, a couple of days before we left for our US adventure Shelly and I went wild asparagus foraging. It was so much fun, so I want to tell you about it before I get carried away with NY.
Has anyone else foraged for wild asparagus? The season isn’t very long and you know when it has started because a lot of the older folk start walking up into the hills, carrying plastic bags and walking around the fields with their hands behind their backs, bending over inspecting the ground. Shelly and I weren’t exactly sure what we were looking for, or where to find it, however, the day before we went forging my landlady pointed out that we had two wild asparagus growing in our garden: perfect!
I didn’t know where to find it, however, Shelly had asked an elderly Italian guy what to look for when foraging asparagus and he pointed out a spiky bush and mumbled something about ‘look out for this stuff,’ and then hurried back into the fields (I think the locals would rather we didn’t know about it…makes sense really).
With the minimal information gathered (but plastic bags forgotten), we set out on a beautiful Thursday morning walk with the sun beating down on our bodies and hope in our hearts. We were wandering around one of our old haunts talking about what we should be looking for, when all of a sudden we stopped, scanned the nearest area and, lo and behold, I spotted one lone asparagus! I’m not going to lie, we were excited. Shelly couldn’t yet see them, however, when I spotted another and another she soon caught on and we were off with our hands behind our backs and our eyes glued to the ground.
At first we just grabbed all that we could see not really looking at quality. It wasn’t until we came across a few brown-red ones with a very crisp ‘snap’ that we decided some of the ones we were picking might be a little old and gone to seed. However, that didn’t stop us from looting more from a farmers field! As you can see in the photo above they are very easy to miss and shoot up on their own around the small prickly green bush that Shelly is holding back.
We were wandering around in this field for about an hour happily picking away when we heard a dog barking. Our first thought was to ignore it, that was until the barking came closer and closer. For a few minutes Shelly and I thought it might of been the farmer coming to shoo us off the property, fortunately, it was just an elderly gentleman walking his dog up our road.
He knew right away what we were doing and complimented us on our forage. We had a small chat with him and then he started breaking into words Shelly and I didn’t recognise, we had a feeling he was giving us a recipe for the asparagus but that was for the ‘too hard basket’, so we gently said goodbye and took our stash further up the hill.
Of course we were buzzing with excitement and dying to try the wild asparagus, so I offered to cook it for lunch. After finishing our walk in the hills I popped a pot of water on for some poached eggs. Once the asparagus was washed and trimmed I simply melted butter on a low heat, added sliced garlic, asparagus, salt and pepper and gently sauteed until cooked.
The smells were fantastic and the asparagus darkened to a very deep green as the stalks became tender. Once they were cooked, I poached a couple of eggs, added a generous sprinkling of truffle salt and finished it with slices of pecorino cheese. The end result was fantastic!
The truffle hit your nose as soon as you sat down and cutting into the egg letting the yolk run through the asparagus was pure heaven. Not much talking was done while we still had food on our plates. The flavours all infused beautifully and enhanced the asparagus. To say we loved it would be an understatement. No wonder the Italians didn’t want us knowing the secret places to forage, it really is a wonderful spring treat if your lucky enough to lay your hands on some.
Some years ago (more than I’d like to admit), when I was in high school in Indiana and living on my Uncle’s farm in the summer, folks would drive down the rural roads looking for wild asparagus. One car driver stopped at the house, he had been hit in the head by an angry farmer, who had seen him picking the wild asparagus alongside the road by his farm. We all felt so awful for him and patched him up. It was good asparagus though!
That is a heck of a story! I’m pretty sure the farmers here would just take your loot…I’m going to keep my eyes open though 😉
Good idea! 🙂 Be sure to duck!
Camilla, I’m so glad to see you back, Elena said you had stopped doing your blog and I was quite disappointed because it is my only way I get to know what my grand
children are doing besides all the great photos of Florence. I have really enjoyed
exploring Italy with you.
Sorry for the laps, a little to much travel has gotten in the way, however, I am back now and lots of stories to come! E and the girls came over yesterday sporting beautiful new haircuts…we will miss them so much so we have to make the most out of the next three months.
What a way to spend a morning in Sicily!!! I love egg with asparagus and to have the stalks so fresh! That must have been an incredibly tasty meal.
I wish I was in Sicily! It was delicious…
I love asparagus but freshly picked must really be something. Sent from my new computer.
You would of loved this meal Pam. Wow new computer!! Looking forward to talking soon x
I love the idea of just going out and foraging for your own food. Does anyone run food-foraging tours of Italy? They totally should. Or Turkey. I remember being in a field of wild oregano in Turkey and some school boys picked some for us then a local gave us a tomato as we walked past a tomato farm (they were picking) and by the time we bought cheese and bread at the only shop in town we had a fab feast.
They should run tours like that. You could either fill it out with a picnic at the end (tour company fills in any missing ingredients and supplies equipment) or with a cooking class, a la your day foraging.
Ever thought of running a food tourism business 😉 ?
Your Turkish adventures sound wonderful! I’m not sure if there are foraging tours? I’m such someone is doing it! I love your idea though- food tourism, I might have to look into that further 🙂
Yes, do. Although if you’re returning to Australia you might find someone’s already done the classic bush tucker angle. The bucolic mediterranean countryside niche might be under-serviced, though. You’ll just have to stay on in Italy 🙂 .
I think the Mediterranean angle is a good one…your right bush tucker is done to death. I can work with this 🙂
Tell me when to book tickets 🙂
Wow and yummo! Asparagus is such a simple treat. Garlic and butter. Drool!
I love asparagus. I have never heard of it growing wild in my home town, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t. A ton of my friends forage for mushrooms (the edible ones not the hallucinogens) in our area though.
We used to go foraging for fiddleheads in Maine when I was growing up, but I didn’t know you could forage for wild asparagus. The poached egg, cheese and truffle salt look perfectly suited to the asparagus too – what a wonderful meal!
I didn’t even think of the opportunity that asparagus could grow wild!! That is exciting! And then cooking from something you foraged… cool!
I totally agree!
Pingback: Foraging in the country | Italy Take Two