Asparagus and artichokes are in season now in France. These are 2 vegetables that I am missing here in Hong Kong (along with endives). Not that I can’t find some here but I don't enjoy eating them here as much as in France. They look “sad” and taste different.
Why do some foods taste better in one country than in another? It might be due to the weather and the soil they have grown in but also the way they are prepared. Or is it simply a mix of emotions and souvenirs linked to these spring vegetables?
Asparagus freshly cut from the garden
Asparagus are found all year round at wet markets in Hong Kong but they taste different than the ones produced in France. Their prices vary during the year. In France they are at their peak in spring and they were selling for about €6-7/kg at the beginning of this month.
I have never found artichokes at Hong Kong wet markets but only at supermarkets. I sometimes see them on the shelf, wrapped individually, and they look dry and are very expensive. For the price of one artichoke here you can buy at least 5 in France right now.
Steamed asparagus with vinaigrette
The way I enjoy asparagus is steamed and served warm with a spicy vinaigrette or mayonnaise with lots of chopped parsley in.
Note: Remove any rough part at the end of the stems (as per the above photo).
Artichokes with vinaigrette
In a large saucepan boil the artichokes in salted water. Once cooked place each piece in a small cup (ramekin) so they can stand right. Prepare individual (small) cups filled with vinaigrette. Et voilà! The job of the cook is done! Now the rest has to be done by the guests. Each one has to pluck away all the leaves, layers after layers, eat the small amount of flesh at the base of each leaf, then scoop out the choke (this is not eatable) before enjoying the best of the artichoke: the heart! Cut its flesh into pieces and dip them into the vinaigrette. Don't forget to dip the base of each leaf into the vinaigrette too!
Eating an artichoke is time consuming and quite messy. My siblings and I loved to eat artichokes when we were young. I remember that we would hurry to be the first one to remove the choke and eat the tender and sweet heart.
Note: some recipes ask you to cut the top of the leaves. My Mum does not. In our family we like to keep the pointed petals as they are.
What could be simpler than these 2 recipes?