27 April 2008

What Price Asparagus?

The farmer's market opened the first weekend in April. The pickings were slim the first few weeks, mostly baked goods (verboten in our gluten free house), the popcorn people (kettle corn, YUCK), the crazy religious freak sorbet guy (don't ask), and a bunch of plants ($3.50 for a basil plant, yeah, uh, NOT).

Today, however, there was FOOD. Glorious food. The strawberries had just started to come in, and my favorite farmer had them. Bringing home strawberries in our house is a sure way to have our kids attached to the table for most of the day. H-4 can eat a quart in a sitting, E-1 nibbles steadily away as well. In fact, making it to the table is often the first challenge. They stand to either side of me at the sink, heads upturned and mouths agape, while I pop the first dozen or so I wash and hull directly into their mouths like a mama bird with her nestlings. H-4 bounced around the kitchen for 5 minutes yelling YIPPEE!! when she discovered those two quart baskets in my bag.

Not so thrilling for them was my prize, 2 bunches of asparagus. Stalks begging to be rinsed, snapped, and slid into a wok with some good olive oil and a handful of chopped shallots. The ones I did not devour raw, that is. Oh, wonderful asparagus.

Now, I don't know how much you know about growing asparagus. It takes years to establish a bed. The first year you need to let the thing grow wild in a protected place. After that, you move it to where you want it, and let it establish itself for a couple more years, with maybe a stolen stalk or two. It is only in the fourth season that you can really start to harvest. HMMMMM, military husband. Guess how many times in my adult life I have lived somewhere long enough to have an asparagus bed. Exactly.

This, then, is not only one of my favorite vegetables. It is everything, however wonderful the Nomadic military family existence is, that I simply cannot have in my life. Heavy furniture, constant neighbors, a house that is decorated and enjoyed for a few years, a high school reunion invite sent to the same address twice in a row. Someday, with an asparagus bed to call my own.

When was the last time 4 dollars bought all that?