Ask Rennie Vol. 4: Embrace Us, Asparagus
Posted on April 8th, 2011
Even knowing, as I do now, that the smell of one’s urine has nothing to do with a potential sexually transmitted disease, and everything to do with having consumed asparagus recently, those slender stalks still strike terror into my very heart whenever I espy them on a menu. How would you recommend that I conquer this fear? I don’t want to forever look like a culinary rube when Spring farm-to-table time rolls around. Nor do I want the continual night terrors.
Fearful Of Pee in Poughkeepsie
My dear Monsieur F.O.P.P.,
I, too, understand the fear that stalks the night, that holds one captive in its slavering maw, that makes one reach for the steadying effects of the midnight Port! But, dear fellow! That fear that you possess regarding the lithe enticements of l’asperge is but a phantom, a fear ill-founded–for no greater ally to amour is to be found than that of the tender, sweet harbinger of spring.
If, mon homme, you have not been so fortunate as to make the acquaintance of the famed Madame de Pompadour, allow me to enlighten you post-haste in regards to that notable lady’s preference for, and championing of, our slender vegetable. It is my hope that in informing you of the following recipe and its attendant powers, when next you are in the grip of those nocturnal horrors that you spoke of you will be able to meditate instead upon the charms of that dear lady, and in doing so, find relief from those fears which have plagued you most terribly til now.
One does not become the mistress of a King without being possessed of a particular body of knowledge, a certain stable of appetites, if you will, capable of satisfying the most discerning of palates. The dear Madame of which I speak is no exception. The name of her family may be piscine, but, the attentions of Madame are anything but–fittingly, she is a great proponent of the asparagus. The remedy described below is one of her own making, and as such, can only be recommended with the strongest fervor.
For the elevation of both your spirits, and the lower parts of your person, she suggests the following, once one has procured the white asparagus of the Dutch, those possessed of violet tips, most pleasing when grasped in a winking silver tong beneath the flicker of the dining tapers:
Trim the asparagus in the usual way, taking care to remove the offending woody ends, and, having done so, plunge the firm stalks into the soft roil of a pot of water you have set to boil, salted to taste–but, not too long! lest they lose their tumescence too rapidly. Blanching, dear fellow, is what we’re after.
Once this has been achieved, slice the asparagus on the bias into pieces no larger than your smallest finger (for what does not benefit from favorable comparison to one’s smallest finger?), keeping only the most choice of the resulting pieces, to be bathed in the following sauce:
A knob of butter. Ten grams of flour. A healthy dust of nutmeg, four small spoons’ of the juice of the best lemon, the glistening ripe yolks of two eggs–slowly worked to a delicate cream in the heated bowl of a bain marie. Upon the point of readiness, plunge the tender purple tips into the sauce, and serve to your assembled guests (or, single guest, should that be the case!) at once.
What transpires next, noble F.O.P.P., should it not turn your evenings from hours of dourness into drifts of delight…well….I shall eat my wig (Robert advises me against such rash offerings, but, such is my faith in the powers of this vegetable, that I will simply not hear of it. My wig, sir! Think how sure I must be of this remedy! Lord knows when last this thing was laundered).
Rest well, at the last, oh F.O.P.P. We hope to hear of your progress, at next month’s salon.
yours, as ever,
G. de la R.