This is always a satisfying moment for me: the harvesting and consumption of the first few spears of Asparagus of the year. The first batch is never very big - this one is only 5 spears - but My Goodness, they are delicious, and all the more so for the eager anticipation we have endured these past several months! I'm sure that if Asparagus were available in my garden all year round I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much.
Once Asparagus starts pushing up its spears they grow very rapidly - several inches in a day is not unusual. Sometimes I inspect the Asparagus bed before I go out to work in the morning and think "No, there's nothing there that's worth cutting", yet when I get home in the evening a whole load of them are ready!
These spears posed on a dinner-plate give you a good impression of how big they are. When you buy Asparagus in the shops it has always been trimmed. The lower parts are generally considered too tough and fibrous to be worth eating - though you can use them in vegetable stock, or possibly in soup as long as you're planning to pass it through a fine sieve.
The flavour of fresh Asparagus is quite strong, so even a small quantity is a viable ingredient. These 5 spears went into a pasta dish that Jane made, along with pesto, toasted pine-nuts and shavings of Parmesan cheese.
I hope these five are just the first of many!