This time last year I was reading "In Etna's Shadow" and trying to experience all the adventures that springtime in Sicily has to offer. Springtime in Italy brings to mind many of my own childhood memories of foraging with my Grammy. She was always on the lookout for dandelion greens, puffball mushrooms, and watercress as we trekked through the woods and alongside streams looking for early (and edible!) signs of spring. When I read about the elusive and tasty "sparaci" (early tender shoots of asparagus), I was intrigued and inspired.
At the time I was able to identify a few wild asparagus plants in our yard, but I could never find anything that looked edible in or around the plants. The season quickly passed me by. When I saw asparagus for sale at the market last week, I was once again motivated to search for the thorny, wiry branches in the yard with hopes of finding the tiny green shoots that are meant to be savored! I went back and re-read the section of the book on wild asparagus, which noted how much careful searching was needed to find those little jewels amidst the thorns and at last, I was able to figure out exactly what I was looking for.
Much to Elise's delight, she and I got a pair of scissors, some gloves, and a basket and walked along the roadside and around the backyard in gleeful pursuit of the sparaci. We were very excited with our spring bounty, even though it was only enough for a little snack. The added bonus of passing on a tradition of "foraging" for the culinary delights of spring was a treat as well.