May is National Asparagus Month, a vegetable that is indeed a delicacy known as “the food of kings.”
Discovered in the wild and believed to have originated in the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, asparagus has a long history; there are records of it grown in ancient Greece and Rome. Egyptians cultivated asparagus for medicinal purposes.
After the demise of the Roman Empire little was heard about asparagus for centuries. By the 16th century its popularity began to rise again.
Asparagus reached this country in the 1700s and was initially planted in New England, but by the 1850s it was being cultivated in North Carolina. Thomas Jefferson grew asparagus in his Monticello garden. Today China is the world’s largest producer. California is the United States’ biggest producer with Michigan and Washington growing a great deal.
The word “asparagus” comes from the Greeks and means “sprout” or “shoot.”
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