White asparagus are among the most important agri-food products of the Veneto region. They are a true excellence of the Veneto spring.
Each province in Veneto has its own variety of asparagus:
Vicenza with white asparagus from Bassano;
Treviso with the asparagus of Cimadolmo;
and finally in the areas of Treviso, Padua and Venice, Badoere asparagus is grown.
White asparagus is high in fiber and low in calories. They belong to the Liliaceae family and are a prized variety that is grown underground. They are grown under mounds of earth, also protected from the sun’s rays with blackout cloths. In April, May the shoots, which are white shoots with a pleasant and delicate flavor, develop. Processing is strictly by hand. From harvesting to selecting the gauges, from cutting to tying the bunches with raffia thread, to packaging. The length of the shoots is between 14 and 22 cm, and the caliber is between 10 and 20 mm.
Asparagus originated in Mesopotamia but grew wild throughout southern Europe, and the Egyptians spread them throughout the Mediterranean. In Italy the first traces date back to Roman times. We find traces in the writings of Marcus Porcius Cato, Pliny and Julius Caesar. It was the Romans themselves who brought them to Europe, specifically to Spain, which is still one of the world’s largest producers.
From Spain they then spread, around 1400, to Germany, Poland and Holland and later in the time of Louis XIV to France as well. It was the Napoleonic army that introduced cultivation in Italy of a prized variety that was grown near Paris, the Precoce d’Argenteuil. It was introduced to Piedmont and then to the rest of central and northern Italy.
The earliest traces in the Veneto date back to the 15th c. They are mentioned in an expense note of the Serenissima Republic, dated 1534. Some council fathers, who passed through Bassano to taste the local delicacies, mention them during the Council of Trent, 1545-1563.
Two legends are told about the actual spread in the Veneto region:
one concerns St. Anthony of Padua who, on his return from Egypt and to please the terrible Ezzelino da Romano, sowed some seeds in the territory of Bassano del Grappa before returning to Padua.
The second, on the other hand, tells of an entirely fortuitous and accidental discovery of white asparagus made by a Bassano farmer around 1500. After a violent hailstorm, he noticed that the part sticking out of the ground was completely ruined. He picked and ate, what was left, that is, the white part that remained under the ground. He thus realized that that part was also tastier, so he began to harvest the asparagus before it spilled out.
Bassano PDO White Asparagus
Bassano PDO white asparagus is grown in 10 municipalities in the Bassano area:
Bassano del Grappa
Pove del Grappa;
Tezze sul Brenta;
In these areas, asparagus cultivation finds its natural habitat thanks to a particular microclimate and soil.
The white asparagus of Bassano is also known as the Common or Chiari asparagus of Bassano.
The visual and palatable characteristics
are pinkish white in colour;
they have a central diameter of 11 mm and a length of between 18 and 22 cm;
the shoots are straight, whole with a serrated apex and well formed;
they are very tender and never woody and are sold in one-kilo or 1.5-kg bundles tied with a willow.
The producers of the Bassano white asparagus observe a very strict specification controlled by the Consorzio di Tutela dell’Asparago Bianco di Bassano (Consortium for the Protection of the White Asparagus of Bassano), established in 1980.
In 2007, the Bassano white asparagus obtained PDO status.
These asparagus have a characteristic bitter-sweet taste and are very tender. They should be kept in the refrigerator for a few days otherwise they lose their flavour. In the kitchen, they are very versatile, and can be used as appetisers, first courses, main courses and even desserts. Every year between April and May, events are organised in the production municipalities to celebrate their harvest, including
Mostra Concorso in Rosà at the beginning of May;
Sagra dell’asparago bianco di San Zeno in the municipality of Cassola between late April and early May.
Needless to say, both last year and this year due to Covid 19 will not be held.
White asparagus of Cimadolmo
The white asparagus of Cimadolmo is cultivated in the area along the Piave River that includes 11 municipalities, all in the province of Treviso:
San Polo di Piave;
Santa Lucia di Piave;
Breda di Piave,
Ponte di Piave;
Maserada sul Piave
The white asparagus of Cimadolmo is cultivated on the left bank of the Piave river, the one most subject to river flooding. The soils are therefore sandy and loamy and are always well drained.
For cultivation, it is obligatory to protect the mounds of earth under which the shoots are placed. This practice, called mulching, is done with dark cloths to prevent the sun from triggering chlorophyll photosynthesis.
The white asparagus of Cimadolmo must be harvested by hand, during the coolest hours of the day, at dawn or dusk.
The shoots must be free of blemishes and completely white, with a fresh and delicate smell. They are very tender and have a sweetish taste.
Since 2006, an association ‘La strada dell’asparago’ (the asparagus road) has been set up, comprising producers, restaurateurs, the Pro Loco, the municipality of Cimadolmo and all the other 10 municipalities.
Every year between April and May, this association organises events and tastings of the white asparagus of Cimadolmo. It follows in the footsteps of the fair events of the late 19th century.
Of the white asparagus of Cimadolmo, traces can already be found in some 17th-century writings by Canon Barpo who, in addition to praising them as ‘herbages superior to all others’, gives some advice on how they can be prepared and eaten.
White and green asparagus of Badoere PGI
The production area of Asparago di Badoere PGI includes some municipalities in the provinces of Padua, Treviso and Venice, in the Veneto region.
Asparago di Badoere PGI has shoots with a tender consistency and no fibrousness. The white type is straight with a very closed apex, white in colour with possible pink tones after packaging. The flavour is sweet with a faint aroma of ripe corn ear, barely perceptible bitterness. Asparago di Badoere PGI Verde has a straight shoot with a possible slight deviation of the tip and a very tight apex; the colour of the apex is bright green with possible purplish nuances. The flavour is sweet and marked, not acidic, neither salty nor bitter; the aroma is fruity and herbaceous. The product is marketed as Asparago di Badoere PGI in the following types: White, Green and White.
Parts of the article taken from www.blog.prelibata.com