Here’s some trivia for you: ‘ass-drainage’ is the perfect anagram of ‘Andre Agassi’; but I digress, that’s not what this post’s about, but I thought you might want to try dropping that in to an awkward silence sometime?
Ass-purge on the other hand isn’t the anagram of anything; it’s the phonetic pronunciation of ‘Asperge‘ which is French for ‘asparagus‘, and once more the asparagus season is upon us. Though unlike in the UK the only asparagus you will find on the market stalls in Strasbourg today is the white variety.
White asparagus is cultivated entirely in the dark, or beneath the soil, and tends to be a lot thicker and fibrous than the regular green variety, and the French would argue – tastier. There is a catch of course, white asparagus needs preparation: the outer skin / layer is so stringy and bitter that it is necessary to peel each shoot before cooking.
Happily for us, Alsace happens to be the French capital of l’asperge blanche, with it’s epicentre in Hoerdt, where the Strasbourg Hippodrome is located. So ass-purge is fairly easy to come by. What’s annoying however is that the local variety tends to be quite expensive, it is usually cheaper to buy foreign (Italian/Belgian).
It says a lot about the French attitude to food, when fresh local asparagus leaps off of the shelves, not matter what the price. Forget ‘buying power’ and fiddly preparation – a Frenchman will go to any lengths for a fleeting taste sensation.