Asparagus is a member of the Asparagaceae family having more than 300 species. The most popular species are garden and ornamental asparagus. Garden asparagus is pretty much familiar to us for its succulent spring stems and used as a vegetable in many food recipes. But have you ever wondered where does asparagus come from?
Where did it appear first and how do we get it today? These are some common questions that often arise in our minds after studying historical manuals.
For instance, asparagus had remained an important topic of ancient roman books. Its growth, cultivation, and culinary uses were addressed in detail in many past books.
So, many people consider that asparagus has a roman origin or is native to Rome. But is it really true or just a myth? This is what we are discussing ahead.
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Where Does Asparagus Come From?
The exact origin of asparagus is still unknown but there are pieces of evidence that it was first appeared in the Middle East and native to the Eastern Mediterranean territories of Asia.
Its massive cultivation and production date back in 3000 B.C. Later on, asparagus was grown and used by Egypt, Syria, Rome, and Persia. They love the sweetish succulent flesh of asparagus stalks and consider it a gift from God.
Some people consider that asparagus was native to Rome and became popular as a Roman vegetable but it is not the fact. In actual, asparagus is much older and was probably sprouted first in Asian and European continents.
Asparagus was named because of its young stems and edible shoots that were known as asparag in ancient Persia.
Various varieties of garden asparagus were extensively cultivated in North Africa, Greek, and Greece.
Now, asparagus has gained its popularity all over the world and is used accordingly in traditional food dishes.
Green, White, And Purple Varieties
Garden asparagus has further three different varieties which are green, white and purple. These are cultivated massively and transported to different countries and states.
Asparagus grows from seeds as well as tiny old roots or rhizomes. Its stalks become succulent and edible in early spring thus it is harvested in the beginning of the spring season.
Green variety is the most popular and natural asparagus that is pretty much familiar to us. It is generally produced in the United States.
However, white asparagus is grown under controlled environmental conditions. During the growth of the plant, the natural sunlight is restricted and ultraviolet light is provided. Since veggie stalks never come in contact with sunlight thus, they wouldn’t turn true green.
There is not a significant difference between the flavor of these two varieties but it’s the pretty appearance that makes the difference.
Purple asparagus is considered a hybrid of wild varieties. Since it is a product of selective breeding so it is sweeter and more succulent than its green and white versions. Therefore, it’s the best choice for raw consumption.
Asparagus Like Plants
There are many plants that are considered asparagus for their edible stalks. For instance, celery, rhubarb, and fennel are also known as asparagus because ancient Greeks used the asparagus word for all stalky vegetables.
All these stalky veggies are picked when succulent, flavorful, young, and less woody. And the same goes for asparagus also. But asparagus is not simply a stalky vegetable.
It belongs to a separate family and resembles flowering plants much more than cruciferous vegetables.
Where Does Asparagus Come From Nowadays?
Nowadays, China is the major producer of asparagus and export it extensively. So, asparagus comes from China and meets the increasing demand for this edible juicy veggie.
However, California, Washington, and the United States also produce significant asparagus and thus contributing to its worldwide cultivation. In these country areas, it is cultivated domestically and cover large fields of land.
America also produces its own asparagus every year but it ends up being expensive because of a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the annual crop occupies large land fields making soil unavailable for the cultivation of any other crop. Secondly, it requires soil with high salinity for massive production. All these factors simply make asparagus expensive.
Read Also: When Not To Eat Rhubarb?
Asparagus Import And Export
China has become the major asparagus producer nowadays and thus export it to different countries. Mexico, California, and Peru also contribute to the production and export of asparagus other than China. Germany produces white asparagus and thus export it.
On the other hand, Italy, Europe, and Asia are major importers that import asparagus every year.
In short, asparagus becomes expensive due to export, higher demand, and less productivity in various countries.
But enjoying asparagus is a great experience. Cooking asparagus is so easy and quick and you can prepare it in a number of delicious ways.
Boiling, grilling, steaming, and roasting are common ways of cooking asparagus and serve as a delicious appetizer or an eye-catching side dish. In addition, frying and broiling also works great when serve with meat dishes.
Quick Wrap Up
Asparagus actually comes from the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean territories of Asia. Although it was used by romans and thoroughly addressed in ancient roman manuals, but it is not native to Rome. And nowadays, China produces asparagus abundantly and thus export it to European and Asian continents to meet its increasing demand.
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