The Great Sardinian Asparagus Hunt Begins!

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The Sardinian countryside is filled with wild asparagus, they choose to reveal themselves anytime from December to early spring. There is always much speculation on when they are ready to collect.

Asparagus is a great treat for everyone living in the Sardinia countryside. A fresh, healthy ingredient that can be incorporated into many tasty dishes. Or snacked on during the search. They cannot even be bought in supermarkets, only bartered between locals or sold by the roadside.

asparagus in Sardinia
My First Asparagus Bunch Of The Year – 13th January 2020

This year I received a tip-off from a local asparagus hunter.

I saw him sitting outside the bar, with a hefty bunch of asparagus resting on the table, with a great sense of pride. His name is Sebastiano, but he’s known locally as the Capitano. He has a sixth sense for finding wild fruits and vegetables in the countryside.

I couldn’t believe he had managed to find so much asparagus when there was a mutual consensus between locals that I had spoken to, agreeing we wouldn’t see any asparagus for at least another month.

He explained to me where in the countryside asparagus can be found, and the higher I go the more I will find.

I set off on my search the next day, and we agreed to search the countryside together soon.

From my experience, asparagus is most commonly found next to old stone country walls, the shade creates an environment where they thrive.

asparagus hunting in sardinia

Finding your first asparagus is by far the hardest part of an asparagus hunt. Once you get your first, you begin to recalibrate your brain to find the long asparagus roots among the asparagus plant, and other trees and bushes growing in the same place.

The asparagus plant is prickly, out of control, and beautiful, but you need to look for the long green stems the rise out from the ground, sometimes reaching over 8 foot, as they balance on the bushes below.

If your lucky, you can find three or four asparagus in close proximity to one another, if this pattern continues you’ll soon have a nice bunch of asparagus in no time.

Sheep don’t eat asparagus, but each town has a group of asparagus hunters that set out early in the morning, to haul the largest bounty. They wander the county roads, with a basket, hoping to eat omelettes, soups and risotto with asparagus over the next few days.

If you are following the path of these keen wild vegetable hunters, it’s likely you’ll come across the remains of asparagus, finding the stalks already taken. Which is very demoralizing, but you must push through and find a new area to search.

An Asparagus stalk that has already been harvested

There is only a limited amount of asparagus, meaning the chances of finding asparagus gets increasingly more difficult. You’ll have to get off the beaten path and hunt in more unexpected areas, where no one has yet dared tread to find asparagus.

Photo from: italianfoodforever.com

This is a link to a Creamy Wild Asparagus Recipe by Deborah Mele

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