White asparagus is only available on the market for a few months of the year. Contrary to its green relative, white asparagus is softer and sweeter. Usually, it is also bigger, but the size may vary: white asparagus can be as thin as a pencil or it might reach a few centimetres in diameter.
The Belgians jokingly call it “white gold” as asparagus is fairly expensive and is considered to be a luxurious delicacy. Hence, when the season comes, the locals can’t get enough of the vegetable. Some restaurants come up with a special asparagus menu where the vegetable can be presented as a starter, a main dish or even a dessert. It has been added to pâtés and soups, quiches and ice-cream.
Mechelen, a city in the province of Antwerp, is said to be the capital of white asparagus. Back in the 19th century, the Mechelen region was the centre for asparagus cultivation. Today, the provinces of Limburg (Hasselt), Antwerp and Flemish Brabant (Leuven) remain the leaders in asparagus cultivation. Thus, Flanders is the best place to taste any white asparagus dish.
The most common way to serve white asparagus in Belgium is the Flemish-style: boiled or steamed asparagus served with minced hard-boiled eggs, parsley and lemon, and covered in melted butter. It is a simple but tasty dish that could also be served with ham, smoked salmon, grey shrimp, truffles, etc. Besides, there are plenty of other recipes to try for serving asparagus.