28 March 2008

Fried Wild Asparagus

We went on a walk with Zio Micchi while we were down in Moneglia this weekend. For us it was a walk, for Zio Micchi it probably couldn't even be considered a stroll. This man is nimble as a mountain goat, and at 70 years old leaves us all panting in his dust. We were on a rocky hilltop, gazing down at the stunning view of the Mediterranean, when something caught my eye. "That plant looks exactly like asparagus!" I giggled.
"That's because it is!" replied Zio Micchi, explaining that once, wild asparagus grew on all the hilltops around Moneglia, but has long since been over-harvested in the areas closest to town. We collected a few stalks, which he gingerly wrapped in his handkerchief to present to his wife (Zia Marghe) upon our return. "Just wait and see how delighted she is!" he winked.
Indeed she was. She immediately went to work washing the stalks, coating their tips first in flour, then dipping them in some beaten egg and frying them in olive oil. The result (need I even say it?) was mouthwatering. The flavor was different than domesticated asparagus, it was more delicate and balanced, with garlicky and nutty overtones. They were devoured enthusiastically by all, and I instantly understood the reason for their disappearance from nearby hill-tops. I would certainly eat them every day if they were so close within reach.

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