Blogging from Germany: Of Spargel, Waldbeeren and Baerlauch

In Germany I could easily eat sausage. No problem. One lovely smoky little kielbasa, one grilled weisswurst with sweet mustard and my 10 year meat famine would be done for. 10 years of vege...oops, pescetarianism down the tubes just cause of one nice porky wurst. Sigh...

But I hold out because of all the divine plants and herbs and berries that the German spring has to offer, Spargel, Waldbeeren and Baerlauch being my favourites. And Waldmeister ofcourse, for the delicate grassy magic it makes of a jug of chilled white wine.

Spargel was the first of the trio that we met, on a cool spring evening, in Credi (our set designer) and Anne's garden. Anne had a made a giant pot of boiled spargel and new potatoes. I think there was also a tomato tart and salad. But for me, it was all about the spargel. Dunked in melted butter, some juice squirted out of a lemon and....heaven! Not for nothing is this ivory-white chubby asparagus, virgin, untouched by the sun, called Frühlingswonne or Springtime Delight. A taste so subtle that anything else would kill it, and really, a sensualist's treat: dip, lick, suck, chew. It's no wonder it is also reckoned to be an aphrodisiac. People eat it with Hollandaise, (much like it's chlorophyll tinged relate, green asparagus) with pasta, in quiche, salad and so on. But for me, nothing's better that boiled spargel. Perhaps sometime with some shaved Grana Padano, and that's it.

Waldbeeren or wild berries are omnipresent in Germany. A sour mix of purple and red, tiny berries sourced in the woods; fairy-sized blackberries, rose hip, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, hawthorn... Mix them with natural yogurt or muesli, they make the prettiest cheesecake or panna cotta topping, lovely as a compote with plain vanilla cake. I even had a voluptuous velouté of spargel with sundried waldbeeren that was quite exquisite.

Now if spargel and waldbeeren are the girly-girls of the German springtime, you couldn't find a wilder punk rocker than Baerlauch or Bear's Garlic. Also known as wild garlic or ramson, the treat here are the leaves. You've got to be brave, 'cause this one is seriously strong. It looks like it could be a lilly, but rub the leaf on your palm and sniff... no lilly of the valley, this! It grows wild in damp woodlands and in ditches and makes a beautiful, robust, really different pesto. No basil, just baerlauch. I haven't seen it in India, so if anyone has, please tell me where to get some!

Wild Garlic Pesto

1 large bunch of wild garlic, washed

1 small bunch of parsley, washed

60gms pine nuts, toasted

60gms parmesan cheese

150mls olive oil (no need for extra virgin)

squeeze of lemon/lime juice

salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients into a food processor apart from the olive oil and blitz for a minute or two then slowly pour in the olive oil until blended.

Waldmeister! ah....The infusion of this herb (Woodruff in English) in white wine resulting in the delightful Maibowle is one of those eternal matches. Bogey and Bacall, Raj and Nargis.....waldmeister and Reisling. Reminiscent of la fée verte, but lighter, not so scary.

Apparently Johann Strauss II wrote a lesser known operetta called Waldemeister, but that takes me nowhere. This much I know, all of the above quite made up for the sorry glutenfrei Tofuwurst I tried to cheat my taste buds with. 

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