I strongly believe that spring has arrived. There are several reasons for believing so. First of all, March 21st, the official first day of spring, according to the calendar, is already behind us. Meteorologists also calculate the beginning of spring, and it is different every year. People from Dalmatia, the coastal region of Croatia, on the other hand, claim that spring arrives after the third bura in March (bura is a powerful northeasterly wind).
I appreciate all the different theories and views, but for me, spring starts after the first breakfast with fresh wild asparagus. This magical vegetable is considered the first sure sign of spring on the Croatian Adriatic. Besides being a harbinger of spring, wild asparagus is an incredibly tasty plant. For me, it also brings nostalgic memories of my childhood.
To find wild asparagus, all you need to do is take a walk into the bushes above the sea, preferably during your spring sailing trip in Croatia. Keep your eyes low and search near the trunks of trees (usually pine) for olive-green stalks. When you get a handful of fresh stalks, it is time to get back on board. Hopefully, someone on the boat got up to prepare a cup of hot tea or coffee. Take a stalk of wild asparagus between your thumbs and forefingers and gently bend the stalk. The place where the stalk cracks is where the edible part is separated from the inedible, woody lower part. Now you have to decide how you are going to prepare your breakfast. I have two favorite ways of preparing asparagus and I will share with you both of them.
Wild asparagus with scrambled eggs, locally known as fritaja or fritada, is very simple to prepare. Warm some olive oil in the pan and put wild asparagus into it. The asparagus has to be cut into inch-long pieces. When you smell a fresh herbal scent, it is time to pour scrambled eggs over the asparagus. Add some salt and pepper and make sure you do not over-fry the eggs. After you have done this, all you have to do is – enjoy your meal!
The other way to prepare wild asparagus includes the same ingredients, but the recipe is slightly different. Pick smaller stalks of asparagus and parboil them by soaking them in boiling water for a few moments. Boil the eggs and peel them when they get hard-boiled. Cut the eggs into the shape you like the best, whether slices or quarters, and combine them with the parboiled asparagus. Complete the dish by adding olive oil, salt and pepper. The dish can be served warm, directly after cooking, or cold, as a salad, in which case you can add some pickled capers and vinegar.
Wild asparagus is not only delicious, but is also very healthy too. The U.S. National Cancer Institute has confirmed that wild asparagus is rich with anticancer and antioxidant nutrients. Enjoy the joyous arrival of spring with excellent food and interesting sailing adventures!
I wish you a calm sea, a fine wind and a strong mast!