Saturday, February 18, 2012

White Asparagus from Peru

White asparagus from Peru at Iovine Brothers
Prominently displayed at Iovine Brothers at the Reading Terminal Market today is white asparagus, $1.99/bunch.

Since it's about two months until the first local asparagus (green) pokes its spears through the dirt, these have to come from a more distant clime. In this case it's Peru where, since the South American nation is mostly south of the equator, even if just barely, it's now late summer. But it must be cooler in those mountain valleys.

Peru is no johnny-come-lately to asparagus growing. Commercial growers harvested their first crops in the early 1950s, initially planting a white variety for canning. Peru now sells to the frozen and fresh-chilled markets as well.

Last week's imports of persimmons from Span flew off the shelves at Iovine, even priced at $7.95 a basket for about half a dozen fruits.

The Chilean fruit I picked previously was so-so. The black plums were way too astringent and hard. The nectarines (after some time in a paper bag) were sweet and tasted like nectarines, even though the texture was a bit off. The Bartlett pears were the best of the bunch: they ripened nicely in the bag and had typical Barlett flavor and texture: not the most complex flavor among the pears, but straightforward, sweet and satisfying.

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