The role of asparagus in German culture is one of those things that must be experienced first hand. Therefore, last year (2011), Frau A & I put together what we consider to be the ultimate Spargel-zeit blog post.
That post has photos of the "Asparagus Queen", government statistics on German production and consumption of asparagus, and examples of asparagus paraphernalia ranging from to shoes to ties to doggie t-shirts to erotic cookbooks.
Not long ago, I received my first formal reminder that the 2012 Spargelzeit is here -- from Amazon.de no less!
In my inbox was an email that looked like this:
The email title means "out with the Winter sleep, and in with Spargeltime!".
Naturally, they are trying to sell stuff. And the first products that come to mind when merchandising for asparagus time are... bed sheets? Interesting, huh? (They are described as "Spring Bedsheets", but the email is still asparagus-titled.)
The Amazon.de email also listed an asparagus pot, and asparagus-colored appliances (refrigerator and water boiler).
Yes, asparagus season is in full swing now. A local (Munich) magazine last week write that 16 exclusive restaurants already have their asparagus menus on the table. (Sorry, link is in German.) Many others have such a menu too.
Rather than re-state all the cool info from 2011's encyclopedic Spargelzeit article, let's see the 2012 Asparagus Queens!
Congratulations, Spargelköniginnen! (I posted as many as I could find, as of 15 April 2012.)
This has by far the best posed photo...in the field, really getting hands on with the veggies:
And here are the same two members of asparagus royalty, performing the first ceremonial harvesting:
Alyssa seemed a lot more enthusiastic, but Aenne eventually got into the act too:
Individual towns have their queens, but the entire region of Franken crowned it's queen in Nürnberg (left, below). On the right is the "Asparagus Princess of the Garlic Region" (I guess the Franken region grows garlic as well?)
One her web page, this Spargel-Queen poses with chefs, in local shops, and with flowers... but never with asparagus!
What's up with that??? No crown here, but she is wearing a dirndl.
Michele did pose in a traditional (farmer?) outfit with other ladies from Beelitz, in an asparagus field:
"Kathleen I" has taken over in Klein Radden as Spargelkönigin, also with a more traditional costume:
Michele (two above) could take lessons from Margarethe (below), who posed with a 2+ meter tall asparagus prop:
Katharina Rau ("Katharina II") was recently crowned, and will represent the asparagus growers in Nordrhein-Westphalen for the next two years. At the link (click on the photo) she says "I can't get enough of this great vegetable!"
Nadine Isabel Schönhardt was crowned 2012 Asparagus Queen in Lampertheim. There's a crown, but no sash?
In the town of Geest, the asparagus queen gets a real homemade sash -- no fancy gold letters here (but no crown?).
Daniele Kügler took one of the most prestigious titles: Asparagus Queen of Schrobenhausen, Bavaria.
Sash? Check. Crown? Check. Dirndl? CHECK. Now that is a truly regal outfit.
Here is Daniele, at Munich's Viktualienmarkt, performing Bavaria's ceremonial first harvest of an asparagus stalk:
And finally, the video of her after winning -- walking, waving, getting crowned, receiving a HUG lebkuchenhertz (lebkuchen heart)... all in an Oktoberfest-like beer tent with Bavarian music. I need to attend this next year!!!